Clinical Oral Investigations

, Volume 19, Issue 8, pp 1799–1805 | Cite as

Peculiar alexithymic traits in burning mouth syndrome: case–control study

  • Roberto Marino
  • Rocco Luigi Picci
  • Giovanni Ferro
  • Claudio Carezana
  • Sergio GandolfoEmail author
  • Monica Pentenero
Original Article



The present case–control study aims to assess the occurrence of alexithymic traits in burning mouth syndrome (BMS) subjects and to correlate alexithymic traits to anxious and depressive traits in BMS subjects.

Materials and methods

Prospectively enrolled BMS and control subjects were administered the 20-item Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20). Anxiety and depressive traits were assessed using the Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale and the Montgomery and Asberg Depression Rating Scale. Occurrence of alexithymic traits was compared between BMS and control subjects. Correlation tests were used to measure the importance of alexithymic traits related to demographic characteristics, pain intensity (VAS score), and to the other psychometric scores.


Fifty-eight BMS subjects (46 females and 12 males) had a mean TAS-20 score significantly higher when compared to controls (p < 0.001; r = 0.72), corresponding to an occurrence rate of alexithymic traits of 79.3 versus 6.9 %. Alexithymic traits in BMS subjects were just related to depressive traits (p = 0.02; ρ = 0.31).


The high occurrence of alexithymia in BMS is an adjunctive issue in favor of its multifactorial pathogenesis, with a not negligible role for somatization.

Clinical relevance

Clinicians should be aware of the high occurrence of alexithymic traits among BMS subjects as such traits may affect the doctor–patient relationship.


Burning mouth syndrome Alexithymia 20-item Toronto Alexithymic Scale Somatization 



The present study did not have any funding source.

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflict of interest to declare (current and over the past 5 years).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roberto Marino
    • 1
  • Rocco Luigi Picci
    • 2
  • Giovanni Ferro
    • 2
  • Claudio Carezana
    • 2
  • Sergio Gandolfo
    • 1
    Email author
  • Monica Pentenero
    • 1
  1. 1.Unit of Oral Medicine and Oral Oncology, Department of OncologyUniversity of TurinOrbassanoItaly
  2. 2.Department of Clinical and Biological Sciences, Mental Health DepartmentUniversity of TurinOrbassanoItaly

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