Brandy's Braces, SARPE, Jaw Surgery Journal

This is my daily journal to my eventual perfect smile and Apnea free life. It logs my surgeries, and daily progress.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Totally Weird Science and Self Medicating

If you have been keeping up with my blog, then you know that since I had my big surgery in May that my tongue has been quite numb. Well actually that is an understatement. The whole left side is numb as is the front tip. It burns all day long from the time I wake until the time I go to bed, and if I stick my tongue out I get this shooting pain running down the exact side that is numb to the tip of my tongue. In addition to this, the whole are that is numb is completly void of taste buds. Meaning I can no longer taste anything on that side, or with the tip of my tongue anymore.

I decided that things might be improving with my tongue, however, I preface this with the fact that if they are, it is truly incremental. I'm not completely convinced it even is as somedays it will seem ok, then others it will feel like it is on fire, making improvement very deceptive.

So being that no one else seems to have had this experience I decided to take matters into my own hands and do some research. What I found was very interesting. Seems that there are a few others like myself, who after their genioplasty have experienced something called "burning tongue syndrome" or "burning mouth syndrome" It includes a constant burning, along with numbness etc. Basically everything I have. What causes it is questionable, however, damage to the lingual nerve is what is believed to be the cause when it occurs with genioplasty. Now mind you if the lingual nerve is severed, the only way to fix it is to quickly (as soon as possible after surgery) have another sugery which involves reattachment. Many have reported that this surgery (while quite major) has made the difference between being able to live with this and not being able to. Now if the nerve has not been severed but say nicked, it is possible that it will heal itself and go away, however, it can persiste for up to several years before it does.

Now with all this being said, my doctor has assured me that they did not touch any of my nerves, but believes my tongue numbness is due to nerve trauma and eventually it will go away on its own. I hate this, but absolutely would not have another surgery to fix it. I would live with it.

For the last few weeks I have been eating a ton of spicy vietnemese pho noodle soup, or korean seafood noodle soup, as well as just about anything that is spicy. I can't seem to get enough of this stuff and have noticed curiously that everytime I eat it I feel SOOOO much better. It has become my most favorite comfort food these days. Now I really had not put two and two together until I did the research on this "burning tongue syndrome". It seems for some people with this syndrome that gargling with caspian juice (the ingrediant that makes hot peppers hot) can help reduce the burning in their tongues and mouth area. I figured out today that this is why I can't get enough of spicy food lately. In some very weird scientific way I have totally been self medicating myself with chili pepper. It is like the burn from the pepper tempers the burning in my tongue, and after eating something spicy (most especially a big bowl of hot,spicy noodles, and broth) that the burning and numbness in my tongue will die down and feel almost normal for several hours. It was also suggested that cinnamon, and minty products like toothpaste can actually aggravate the burning. This has also been the case for me. Everytime I brush my teeth my tongue just throbs like it is on fire. It was suggested to use baking soda to brush with (which I tried today) and ahhh...things were much better. No burning like usual.

Now I'm assuming that all of this is being caused by trauma, and given that I'm only 6 weeks post op, which really isn't very long at all I feel I need to give it a little time to get better. I have been trying to find some rhyme or reason to the burning though, and today, when I read about the chili pepper, I was like OMG! that is it!

I hope this gets better, it really can be maddening. I signed up for all the numbness in my face. I'm fine with all of that. No one ever mentioned possible tongue issues though. That would've really made me stop and think it through a bit more.


  • At 5:40 PM, Anonymous Angela Winston said…

    Hello, Brandy. I've been dealing with Burning Mouth Syndrome for about a year, since having oral surgery. Mine has gradually gotten better, and I hope yours will too.

    My dentist recommended Biotene toothpaste. He said to avoid toothpaste with sodium laurel sulfate, which is almost everything. I tried a couple of health-food-store toothpastes but they were really, really weird. Biotene is more like a normal toothpaste. It does have mint in it but is much milder than the mass-market brands. You can get it at some drugstores and grocery stores, as well as online.

    You might want to take a look at my blog,, for some other suggestions.

    Good luck,
    Angela Winston


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