Burning mouth syndrome (BMS) is a chronic pain disorder, more common in peri and postmenopausal females, with a varied symptomatology. Symptoms include a burning or stinging sensation of the tongue, lips or other oral mucosal surfaces, subjectively dry mouth or excess saliva, altered taste or loss of taste and paraesthetic sensations. These are usually present daily for more than 3 months.
The aims of this study were to highlight the symptomatic manifestations of BMS along with the need for prompt diagnosis and onward referral when necessary.
A cross-sectional study of patients with idiopathic BMS was conducted. The presenting symptoms, time to diagnosis and number of clinicians seen in advance of a diagnosis of BMS and anxiety and depression as determined by the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) was recorded. Correlations were explored.
Fifty patients were enrolled in this study (38, F:12, M). The average time from onset of symptoms to diagnosis was 13 months. Commonly reported symptoms included burning (n = 44) and altered taste (n = 14). The median anxiety score was 13 and the median depression score was 10. No statistically significant correlations were found between the anxiety and depression scores generated and the number of clinicians seen or the time to diagnosis.
The results of this study indicate that there is a need for an increased awareness of the symptoms reported in BMS, particularly in peri and postmenopausal women. This should aid prompt diagnosis and may alleviate some of the anxiety that patients may experience.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Headache Classification Committee of the International Headache, S (2013) The international classification of headache disorders, 3rd edition (beta version). Cephalalgia 33(9):629–808
Scala A, Checchi L, Montevecchi M, Marini I, Giamberardino MA (2003) Update on burning mouth syndrome: overview and patient management. Crit Rev Oral Biol Med 14(4):275–291
Renton T (2011) Burning mouth syndrome. Rev Pain 5(4):12–17
Speciali JG, Stuginski-Barbosa J (2008) Burning mouth syndrome. Curr Pain Headache Rep 12(4):279–284
Sardella A, Lodi G, Demarosi F, Bez C, Cassano S, Carrassi A (2006) Burning mouth syndrome: a retrospective study investigating spontaneous remission and response to treatments. Oral Dis 12(2):152–155
Klasser GD, Epstein JB, Villines D (2011) Diagnostic dilemma: the enigma of an oral burning sensation. J Can Dent Assoc 77:b146
Gao J et al (2009) A case-control study on etiological factors involved in patients with burning mouth syndrome. J Oral Pathol Med 38(1):24–28
Mignogna MD, Fedele S, Lo Russo L, Leuci S, Lo Muzio L (2005) The diagnosis of burning mouth syndrome represents a challenge for clinicians. J Orofac Pain 19(2):168–173
Klasser GD et al (2011) Burning mouth syndrome: a challenge for dental practitioners and patients. Gen Dent 59(3):210–220 quiz 221–2
Bjelland I, Dahl AA, Haug TT, Neckelmann D (2002) The validity of the Hospital Anxiety and Depression scale: an updated literature review. J Psychosom Res 52(2):69–77
Snaith RP (2003) The hospital anxiety and depression scale. Health Qual Life Outcomes 1:29
Age UK (2016) Later life in the United Kingdom. Age UK, London
Central Statistics Office Ireland (2017) Age Proflie of Ireland. [cited 2018 March 12th]
Yuan A, Woo SB (2015) Adverse drug events in the oral cavity. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol 119(1):35–47
Tuccori M, Lapi F, Testi A, Ruggiero E, Moretti U, Vannacci A, Bonaiuti R, Antonioli L, Fornai M, Giustarini G, Scollo C, Corona T, Ferrazin F, Sottosanti L, Blandizzi C (2011) Drug-induced taste and smell alterations: a case/non-case evaluation of an italian database of spontaneous adverse drug reaction reporting. Drug Saf 34(10):849–859
Kohorst JJ, Bruce AJ, Torgerson RR, Schenck LA, Davis MDP (2014) A population-based study of the incidence of burning mouth syndrome. Mayo Clin Proc 89(11):1545–1552
Bergdahl M, Bergdahl J (1999) Burning mouth syndrome: prevalence and associated factors. J Oral Pathol Med 28(8):350–354
Alnafea S, Fedele S, Porter S, Ni Riordain R (2017) Online information on the treatment of burning mouth syndrome: quality and readability. J Oral Facial Pain Headache 31(2):147–151
Zender R, Olshansky E (2009) Women’s mental health: depression and anxiety. Nurs Clin North Am 44(3):355–364
Sunderland M, Newby JM, Andrews G (2013) Health anxiety in Australia: prevalence, comorbidity, disability and service use. Br J Psychiatry 202(1):56–61
Grushka M, Epstein JB, Gorsky M (2002) Burning mouth syndrome. Am Fam Physician 65(4):615–620
Aggarwal A, Panat SR (2012) Burning mouth syndrome: a diagnostic and therapeutic dilemma. J Clin Exp Dent 4(3):e180–e185
Salkovskis PM, Rimes KA, Warwick HM, Clark DM (2002) The Health Anxiety Inventory: development and validation of scales for the measurement of health anxiety and hypochondriasis. Psychol Med 32(5):843–853
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
About this article
Cite this article
Ni Riordain, R., O’Dwyer, S. & McCreary, C. Burning mouth syndrome—a diagnostic dilemma. Ir J Med Sci 188, 731–734 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11845-018-01960-y
- Burning mouth syndrome
- Diagnostic delay
- Presenting symptoms