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What is "burning mouth syndrome"?

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Quick Answer

Burning mouth syndrome is a recurrent and chronic mouth pain that does not have an obvious cause, according to Mayo Clinic. Pain may be local or widespread and can affect the gums, cheeks, tongue and lips. It can appear suddenly as a burning sensation, dry mouth or changes in taste.

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There are two types of burning mouth syndrome: primary and secondary, notes Mayo Clinic. Primary pain presents without clinical or lab abnormalities and is believed to be caused by nerves that have been damaged. Secondary burning mouth syndrome can be linked to an underlying medical condition, such as dry mouth, fungal infection, dentures, allergies, acid reflux or nutritional deficiencies.

Women who are postmenopausal are at greater risk for developing burning mouth pain, states Mayo Clinic. Certain conditions, such as an upper respiratory infection, medications, stress or dental procedures, can also increase risk. Patients may reduce pain by avoiding irritants such as tobacco, spicy food, alcohol and citrus fruits.

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