Mechanical salivary stimulation eases burning mouth syndrome

2011 12 21 16 42 18 150 Fire Flames Burning 70

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Chewing on a piece of silicone can ease the symptoms of burning mouth syndrome, Brazilian researchers say.

This rare chronic condition is characterized by a burning sensation or other dysesthesia in otherwise normal appearing oral mucosa. Multiple parts of the mouth can be affected, but the tongue is the most common site (glossopyrosis). Burning mouth syndrome is most often seen in postmenopausal women. Prevalence estimates have ranged from 0.7 to 15.0%, with the wide variations attributed to differences in diagnostic criteria.

As reported online November 15 in Headache, Dr. Fabricio T. A. de Souza from Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, and colleagues had 26 patients spend 10 minutes, three times a day, chewing on a soft three-dimensional piece of silicone. Patients with dentures were told to remove them during the treatments.

After 90 days of this regimen, patients reported significant decreases in the frequency of symptoms, the number of burning sites, and burning sensations as quantified with a visual analog score.

Three-quarters of patients with taste disturbances at baseline reported improvement with treatment, and 13 of 17 women with subjective oral dryness also reported improvement.

There were no changes in resting or stimulated salivary flows, nor in the qualitative features of the saliva (viscosity, turbidity, and staining).

There was, however, "a significant decrease in salivary levels of total protein and an increase in TNF-alpha, which may account for the clinical effectiveness of therapy," according to the authors.

Their paper did not explain how an increase in TNF-alpha could account for the effect of treatment, and the authors have not responded to a request for comment.

The researchers did acknowledge that without a control group, it's impossible to know whether the results were influenced by a placebo or Hawthorne effect (i.e., the tendency of some people to do better just because they're participating in an experiment).


Headache 2011.

Last Updated: 2011-12-21 15:16:02 -0400 (Reuters Health)

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