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Dental and Oral Health (Adults)

Sweet Taste in Mouth

07/09/2010

Question:

For 3 weeks I have had a sweet taste in my mouth. It varies in the intensity throughout the day, and from day to day. It started after I ate Brie cheese, when I drank some water it tasted sweet. I went to bed and it wasn’t there the next morning. A few days later it came back when I woke up and has stayed since. I have been to my Primary Care Physician, Dentist, and Periodontist. They all say that my mouth looks normal and metabolic, thyroid, and glucose panels are normal. I have never had a cavity, so no fillings or dental work. I have tried Biotene tooth paste and rinse for dry mouth and it does seem to help for a little bit (45 min) in the severity. I take synthroid 75 and zantac 150. Food tastes normal except that sweets taste sweeter. I had no illness prior to onset. I had a MRI done of the brain in 1-10 for different reasons, completely normal. My doctors are at a loss. My Primary gave me Nystatin and 3 doses of Diflucan, and there was no change. I have searched the web and found many instances of people with same complaint but no real solution or direction to go. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

Answer:

Based on what you are telling me, this may be a condition known as burning mouth syndrome (BMS). Even though it's called BMS, it really should be called "oral sensory neuropathy", which means that the nerves that transmit information to the brain about the sensations in the mouth just aren't working right. Nerves that carry information about pain, taste and/or texture can be affected, and it seems to occur more frequently in peri- and post-menopausal women.

When the nerves that carry taste information are affected, patients may complain of "taste phantoms", which are perceived as a bitter, salty, metallic or sweet taste in the mouth, even though there isn't anything in the mouth that would taste like that. This is a harmless, but annoying, problem that has no proven treatment, but many patients get better spontaneously.

More information can be found at the links below.  

Related Resources:

Burning Mouth Syndrome
Burning Mouth Syndrome (AAOMP)

For more information:

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Response by:

Carl M Allen, DDS, MSD Carl M Allen, DDS, MSD
Professor Emeritus of Oral Pathology
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University