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I am a 55-year-old woman and am experiencing an uncomfortable burning sensation while using mouthwash or drinking orange juice. Also, my mouth feels dry most of the time and the texture of my tongue is changing. What could the problem be?

From the symptoms you described, it sounds like you could be suffering from a condition known as Burning Mouth Syndrome (BMS), which can cause the tongue, gums, cheeks, lips or throat to feel as if they are burning. It can affect any tissue within the mouth and does not have any one discernible cause.

This condition presents with a spectrum of symptoms – from complete numbness to a slight tickle, to a burning sensation. Changes in taste may also occur, for example, an intense metallic taste in the mouth or a complete loss of taste. Sufferers of BMS also experience a dry feeling in their mouth, tongue or throat, coupled with a heightened sense of thirst.

There are certain pre-existing conditions that trigger Burning Mouth Syndrome such as nutritional deficiencies, allergic reactions to oral gels, various foods, fruits and juices containing acids (citrus), tissue trauma, stomach acid reflux, oral ulcers and oral fungal infections.

To treat this syndrome, it is important to isolate the cause of the condition. Deciding on a treatment course involves determining whether the BMS happens in isolation or as a consequence of another condition. Once this has been determined, the possible treatment options include saliva replacement to combat dry mouth, oral rinses to treat fungal infections, therapy or counselling for stress related triggers, and certain nerve-blocking medications.