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CINNAMON CAN GET YOU DOWN IN THE MOUTH

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Add the piquant taste of cinnamon to the list of life's little pleasures that can be bad for you if overindulged.

Too much cinnamon can cause a host of nasty oral health problems, including painful sores, inflamed taste buds and a burning sensation of the tongue and tissue in the mouth, according at an Academy of General Dentistry meeting in Baltimore."We're seeing cinnamon being used as a flavoring agent in more and more products such as chewing gum, candy, pastries, rice cakes, herbal teas, breads and cereals," said Dr. Michael Siegel, associate professor at the University of Maryland Dental School.

"People who consume small amounts of cinnamon typically won't have any problems. It's the people who chew pack after pack of cinnamon gum and eat or drink cinnamon on a regular basis who need to be concerned," Siegel said.

Many people do not realize cinnamon is a caustic substance that can dry out and irritate oral tissue, he said.

Physicians confronted with complaints typical of cinnamon overuse often order tests for diabetes, anemia, lupus or other systemic diseases.

"One of the first questions I ask a patient who comes in complaining of red gums, oral ulcers or a burning sensation in the mouth is, `Do you eat a lot of cinnamon?' " Siegel said.

Patients with unexplained mouth sores and irritation who stopped consuming large amounts of cinnamon said their symptoms healed within weeks, according to a study done at the University of Louisville School of Medicine.