If you have ever experienced a burning mouth, you know it is extremely unpleasant! I’m not referring to burning your mouth on hot liquids but rather a burning sensation that is totally unprovoked. According to the JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery publication, burning mouth syndrome occurs in about 90-120 of 100,000 people. Women are more likely to have the syndrome and being over the age of 59 years increases the risk.
Although everyone’s symptoms are different, the burning is usually superficial on the tongue, lips, or even the whole mouth. Imagine if you will, how this could interfere with everything we do daily from brushing our teeth, drinking our morning coffee, communicating verbally, and just being comfortable.
Although there are many suggested treatments and home remedies for this syndrome, there really has been no huge progress in identifying the cause of the symptoms or a “cure”. Treatments might include over-the-counter pain medications, dry mouth lozenges, saltwater gargles, etc. but these are temporary. This might be a great question to ask your residents who may be refusing to eat and drink, experiencing weight loss, not being as verbal as they previously were, etc. Advocate for these residents and provide support, ask their physician, and keep them as comfortable as possible. Someday scientists will find the true cause and treatment for this syndrome, I’m sure of it! Stay well, stay informed, and stay tuned.
If you are a member of JAMA you can read more about burning mouth syndrome on their website.