November 1, 2000
by W.H. Hewitt, DDS
What is a syndrome? It indicates something very complicated; something that no one quite understands or can explain.
I am here to tell you what burning mouth indicates. It is not a syndrome at all. It is simply an allergy. Patients who cannot wear dentures because of the burning in their mouths are allergic to the colour pigment in the plastics or acrylics. Some of these patients are also allergic to metal and other laboratory denture materials.
I hereby present my experimentations and findings with a patient presenting burning mouth syndrome from dentures. I shall give her the fictitious name of Mrs. Jones.
The first set of dentures I had made for Mrs. Jones were made of standard Lucitone material. A few weeks after insertion she returned to our clinic saying that she could not wear the dentures for any length of time because of the severe burning sensation on her gums, tongue and roof of mouth. She would put them in her mouth temporarily to eat or to go out in public but in half an hour she would remove them.
Previously I had used a nobilium palate for burning mouth cases with some measure of success. Therefore, I had a set of dentures made for Mrs. Jones using a totally nobilium base, This was no better as she still had to keep removing the dentures because of burning sensation in her mouth, due to allergy to nickel, I deducted.
I then resorted to Vulcanite material, which had not been used for thirty years or more. After much searching, Western Dental Lab, Regina, SK, with whom I was closely associated, found one pound of Vulcanite in Southern United States. I had another set of dentures made for Mrs. Jones of Vulcanite material. But alas, with no success. She still suffered from burning mouth. By this time I realized that I had a full-blown allergy case of burning mouth syndrome.
My next step was to have Western Dental Lab send small squares or samples of every kind of acrylic used for denture material, made by different manufacturers. I taped these little squares to the arm of Mrs. Jones. Every one of them produced a redness and swelling by the next day, except the clear plastic sample without any colour pigment. She was basically allergic to all materials except the clear plastics or acrylics. I concluded that she was allergic to the colour pigment in acrylics or plastics, and to nickel in nobilium products.
Finally, I instructed the lab to make a set of dentures for Mrs. Jones made of clear plastic. Success at last! She was able to wear these dentures night and day, around the clock.
Since then several other patients learned about my discovery by word of mouth. Some came from a distance of several hundred miles. One woman arrived with a bag full of dentures, eight sets in all. I asked her why she couldn’t wear any of these dentures. She responded, “Because they all burn my mouth,” I had the lab make a set of dentures for her of clear plastic as well. She stayed in town overnight after insertion of these dentures. The next morning she stopped at my clinic to tell me that she had worn these dentures all night and that she had not experienced any burning sensation whatsoever. She left town totally happy with this set of dentures.
By now Mrs. Jones had worn her dentures for several years. She came back to the clinic with a suggestion. The clear plastic dentures showed dark shadows between the teeth. She wanted me to make a new set of dentures for her. She suggested that the lab should put some pink coloured plastic around the neck of the teeth first and then cover with clear plastic. It sounded like a great idea! Once more I was in conference with Western Dental Lab, asking the technicians if this was a feasible procedure for them. They admitted they had never done this before but they were willing to experiment. They would have to repeat the entire procedure of packing the dentures twice but they were willng to do this.
Basically we did a totally experimental procedure by putting the pink plastic around the teeth, for appearance sake, then covering with clear plastic. Once more, it was successful!
I’ve had a very good working relationship with Mrs. Jones. I am grateful to her for standing by me throughout all of these trial and error experimentation sessions. I could not have achieved these results without her undivided cooperation and patience. It was also an added expense for her to go along with the experiments as she paid for several sets of dentures.
I also acknowledge Western Dental Lab for all their help in supplying me with the materials and workmanship as requested.
Burning mouth syndrome is not a syndrome at all. It is simply an allergy to the colour pigment in regularly used materials in acrylics and plastics and to nickel in nobilium. This discovery has been protected by copyright through Ade & Company in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Dr. Hewitt is a member in good standing with the College of Dental Surgeons of Saskatchewan. He was awarded the 50-year service award and Life Membership with this College in June, 2000. He maintains a practice in Carlysle, SK. Dr. Hewitt has been particularly successful in the field of Prosthetics, partly due to his five years of experience as a Dental Technician with the Canadian Dental Corps.
Oral Health welcomes this original article.