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Aust Dent J. 2009 Jun;54(2):84-93; quiz 173. doi: 10.1111/j.1834-7819.2009.01099.x.

Burning mouth syndrome and psychological disorders.

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Oral Medicine and Oral Pathology, School of Dentistry, The University of Queensland, Brisbane QLD 4000.


Burning mouth syndrome (BMS) is an oral dysaesthesia that causes chronic orofacial pain in the absence of a detectable organic cause. The aetiology of BMS is complex and multifactorial, and has been associated in the literature with menopause, trigger events and even genetic polymorphisms. Other studies have found evidence for mechanisms such as central and peripheral nervous system changes, with clinical and laboratory investigations supporting a neuropathologic cause. These physiological explanations notwithstanding, there is still much evidence that BMS aetiology has at least some psychological elements. Somatoform pain disorder has been suggested as a mechanism and factors such as personality, stress, anxiety, depression and other psychological, psychosocial and even psychiatric disorders play a demonstrable role in BMS aetiology and symptomatology. In order to treat BMS patients, both physiological and psychological factors must be managed, but patient acceptance of possible components of psychological disease basis is a major hurdle. Clinical signs of patient stress, anxiety or depression are a useful reinforcement of clinical discussions. The current paper proposes a number of clinical signs that may be useful for both clinical assessment and subsequent patient discussions by providing visible supportive evidence of the diagnosis.

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