Although both sexes are susceptible BMS, the typical patient is a post-menopausal female. Research has shown that between ten and forty percent of post-menopausal women report some symptoms related to BMS. I can only imagine the frustration of having a disorder that can not be definitively diagnosed, interferes with eating, sleeping, becomes progressively worse with time, generally has no known cause, and for which there is no cure. This is the problem facing both the patient with burning mouth syndrome and the health professional that elects to treat the case.
Research indicates that in approximately thirty percent of the cases there is a causative link to a variety of oral and systemic conditions, conditions such as the onset of menopause, diabetes, chemo and radiation therapy, and a host of vitamin and mineral deficiencies. In the remaining seventy percent of BMS cases no specific diagnosis can be made.
Generally speaking not unusual for a patient who suffers from BMS to have one or more of the above mentioned conditions or none at all. This creates a complex challenge for professionals to arrive at a diagnosis; as a result diagnosing BMS is often done through process of elimination.
If you have symptoms BMS, you should consult your dentist. Your dentist should first take a thorough medical history, and check your mouth for any obvious oral problems.
If your dentist determines your mouth is healthy, he should refer you to a physician to check for possible medical causes.
Like your dentist your physician should also take a thorough medical history, after which he will probably order a full blood work-up.
Treatments for BMS depend on the patient and the cause. If your dentist has determined you have a fungal infection he will prescribe an antifungal agent, such as nystatin. If he determines the cause to be an irritation from dental work, a simple adjustment maybe all that's needed.
If the cause of your BMS is determined to be medical, your physician may prescribe various medications. For menopause he may recommend hormone replacement therapy.
Recent studies of BMS have pointed to dysfunction of several cranial nerves associated with taste sensation as a possible cause of burning mouth syndrome. Given in low dosages, benzodiazepines, tricyclic antidepressants or anticonvulsants may be effective in patients with burning mouth syndrome. Topical capsaicin has been used in some patients.
Because there is so little understanding on what causes BMS, it's very important for you to evaluate any lifestyle changes you may have made prior to getting BMS. If you can think of anything that maybe a cause, it would be wise to stop it to see if your burning subsides.
The good news is that most cases of BMS get better with time.