Of all the various illnesses and conditions that can affect the mouth, burning mouth syndrome (BMS) is among the most mysterious and difficult to treat. If you have dentures, it can be even more difficult to treat, as your false teeth may be exacerbating or even causing the painful burning sensation indicative of BMS.
What is BMS?
Burning mouth syndrome is largely self-explanatory, and its sole symptom is a painful burning sensation inside the mouth. This pain can occur in the tongue, the hard and soft palate, the lips, and the mucous membranes that line the inside of the mouth -- pain may be localised to one or two areas, or may spread to affect the majority of the mouth.
Some people who suffer from BMS may experience pain constantly, while others experience the burning sensation at erratic and unpredictable times. However other cases of BMS tend to follow distinct patterns. Some sufferers may find that the burning sensation is at its worst upon waking, and that pain and discomfort diminishes throughout the day, while others may experience minor pain in the mornings that worsens throughout the day. If you wear dentures and are experiencing BMS in these distinct day/night patterns, your dentures may be the actual cause of the sensation.
How can dentures cause or exacerbate BMS?
Modern dentures are designed to slot into the mouth's natural contours easily and minimise any irritation that they may cause to some of the more delicate oral tissues. However, some people can still fall victim to bouts of BMS that are caused, directly or indirectly, by their dentures. Dentures can provoke BMS in a number of ways:
- Ill-fitting dentures -- If your dentures do not fit snugly and comfortably inside your mouth, protruding edges and surfaces can irritate the delicate lining of the mouth over time. This can cause localised BMS, as well as other unpleasant conditions such as xerostomia (dry mouth) and denture-related stomatitis (inflammation of oral tissues commonly associated with oral thrush). Even if your dentures fitted well initially, they can cause irritation over time, as gum tissue covered by dentures atrophies and changes the shape of the mouth and palates. If you suspect poorly-fitted dentures are causing or aggravating your BMS, book an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible to have your dentures reshaped. In many cases the dentist will be able to reshape the dentures quickly and easily using conventional dental tools, but if your dentures are very poorly fitted they may need to be sent off to dental technicians for adjustment.
- Allergic reactions to compounds present in dentures -- Some people with BMS may actually be suffering a prolonged allergic reaction to their own dentures. While dentures are deliberately made from non-reactive materials to minimise this risk, some people still suffer hypersensitivity to the plastic acrylics and metals (such as nickel) used in conventional dentures. Consult your dentist to find out if this is the case -- if they ascertain that your dentures are provoking an allergic reaction, you may be offered dentures made of specialised inert materials.
- Allergic reactions to denture adhesives -- Alternatively, if your BMS is largely localised around the gum area, you may consider changing your dental adhesive. Some people can suffer mild allergic reactions to certain brands of dental adhesive, and these reactions may become worse as they grow old and their immune systems weaken. As always, it's best to consult your dentist first, as they may be able to recommend hypo-allergenic dental adhesives, or supply you with one themselves.