Glossodynia is sometimes referred to as ‘burning mouth syndrome’ – a name which gives us a heavy hint as to the main characteristic; a burning or stinging sensation in the mouth. This is particularly prevalent on the tongue often and sometimes comes with xerostomia and dysgeusia. This is of course a very unpleasant condition and a frustrating one for anyone experiencing it and some understanding as to its nature can help us better understand and so control it. Here we will look at the symptoms, causes and available treatments for burning mouth.
Symptoms of Glossodynia
As mentioned the main symptom of burning mouth syndrome is of course a burning mouth. On top of this you might experience ‘xerostomia’ which is a dry mouth usually associated with a lack of saliva (sometimes called cotton mouth), and dysgeusia which is a ‘disoriented’ sense of taste (so that things don’t taste how they normally should). However in order for the condition to be considered glossodynia it must not be accompanied by any detectable abnormalities in saliva or mucous thus suggesting that it has no cause other than psychological causes – or that it might be being caused by another condition or by lifestyle choices. Usually the symptoms of the condition are not present in the morning, but get worse throughout the day.
Glossodynia Psychological Causes
Glossodynia then is normally considered a ‘psychosomatic’ condition suggesting that it is caused by the patients’ psychology. It’s ‘all in the mind’ as it were with no physical cause currently known. This does not mean that it is not a legitimate complaint, and many serious conditions are linked to our thoughts such as panic attacks and depression. In some cases even more physical problems such as IBS can be linked to our psychology.
Of course there is still some kind of ’cause’ that triggers glossodynia in certain individuals. These could be chronic anxiety or depression, menopause etc. The connection between the mind and the production of saliva can be demonstrated in many ‘every day’ situations such as the way in which we often feel we have a dry mouth as a result of nerves before giving a speech or when speaking to someone we are trying to impress.
Glossodynia Physical Causes
There are also many physical causes of burning mouth syndrome however meaning it’s not always a purely psychological phenomenon. In some cases it can be a result of a reaction to the foaming agent found in many toothpastes called ‘sodium lauryl sulphate’. Likewise it can be linked to type 2 diabetes, and sometimes damaged nerves (in the brain which are related to taste). In other cases it can be caused by spicy foods, badly fitted dentures, medications, vitamin B12 deficiency or fungal infections.
Treatment for burning mouth syndrome varies greatly between cases based on the severity of the symptoms, the underlying cause and the diagnosis of the physician. In many cases the symptoms will be associated with a psychological disorder such as depression and the burning mouth and the underlying cause will be treated together with anti-depressants. In other cases patients can try altering their medication, using different toothpastes, checking their dentures and increasing their consumption of vitamin B12.