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J Oral Pathol Med. 2013 Oct;42(9):649-55. doi: 10.1111/jop.12101. Epub 2013 Jun 16.

Burning mouth syndrome: a review and update.

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Department of Dentistry, National Taiwan University Hospital, College of Medicine, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan; Graduate Institute of Clinical Dentistry, School of Dentistry, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan.


Burning mouth syndrome (BMS) is characterized by the presence of burning sensation of the oral mucosa in the absence of clinically apparent mucosal alterations. It occurs more commonly in middle-aged and elderly women and often affects the tongue tip and lateral borders, lips, and hard and soft palate. In addition to a burning sensation, the patients with BMS may also complain unremitting oral mucosal pain, dysgeusia, and xerostomia. BMS can be classified into two clinical forms: primary and secondary BMS. The primary BMS is essential or idiopathic, in which the organic local/systemic causes cannot be identified and a neuropathological cause is likely. The diagnosis of primary BMS depends mainly on exclusion of etiological factors. The secondary BMS is caused by local, systemic, and/or psychological factors; thus, its diagnosis depends on identification of the exact causative factor. When local, systemic or psychological factors are present, treatment or elimination of these factors usually results in a significant clinical improvement of BMS symptoms. Vitamin, zinc, or hormone replacement therapy has been found to be effective for reducing the oral burning or pain symptom in some BMS patients with deficiency of the corresponding factor. If patients still have the symptoms after the removal of potential causes, drug therapy should be instituted. Previous randomized controlled clinical trials found that drug therapy with capsaicin, alpha-lipoic acid, clonazepam, and antidepressants may provide relief of oral burning or pain symptom. In addition, psychotherapy and behavioral feedback may also help eliminate the BMS symptoms.


burning mouth syndrome; classification; diagnosis; etiology; treatment

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