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Pain Pract. 2007 Jun;7(2):151-62.

Burning mouth syndrome: will better understanding yield better management?

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  • 1Center for Pain Medicine, Tel-Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University, Tel-Aviv, Israel.


"Burning mouth syndrome" (BMS) refers to a chronic orofacial pain disorder usually unaccompanied by mucosal lesions or other clinical signs of organic disease. BMS is typically characterized by a continuous, spontaneous, and often intense burning sensation as if the mouth or tongue were scalded or on fire. Burning mouth syndrome is a relatively common condition. The estimated prevalence of BMS reported in recent studies ranges between 0.7 and 4.6% of the general population. About 1.3 million American adults, mostly women in the postmenopausal period, are afflicted with BMS. The etiology of this disorder is poorly understood even though new evidence for a possible neuropathic pathogenesis of idiopathic BMS is emerging. Burning mouth syndrome may present as an idiopathic condition (primary BMS type) distinct from the symptom of oral burning that can potentially arise from various local or systemic abnormalities (secondary BMS type), including nutritional deficiencies, hormonal changes associated with menopause, local oral infections, denture-related lesions, xerostomia, hypersensitivity reactions, medications, and systemic diseases including diabetes mellitus. In more than a third of patients, multiple, concurrent causes of BMS may be identified. It is important to note that the diagnosis of BMS should be established only after all other possible causes have been ruled out. Professional delay in diagnosing, referring, and appropriately managing of BMS patients occurs frequently. Treatment should be tailored to each patient and it is recommended to practice the treatment in a multidisciplinary facility. This article discusses our current understanding of the etiology and pathogenesis of BMS. The authors have tried to emphasize new pharmacological approaches to manage this challenging disorder.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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