Impact of criteria-based diagnosis of burning mouth syndrome on treatment outcome

Suzanne C. Danhauer, Craig S. Miller, Nelson L. Rhodus, Charles R. Carlson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


Aims: Burning mouth syndrome (BMS) primarily affects post-menopausal women and is often difficult to treat successfully. Treatment outcomes have been problematic because of failure to distinguish between patients with BMS and patients presenting with oral burning (OB) resulting from other clinical abnormalities. The purpose of this study was to determine characteristics that might uniquely identify BMS patients from patients with OB and to determine whether proper classification influences treatment outcome. Methods: The clinical sample consisted of 69 patients (83% female) with an average age of 62 years, pain duration of 2.45 years, and visual analog scale pain rating of 49 mm (rated from 0 to 100 mm). All patients underwent a clinical exam and completed the Multidimensional Pain Inventory and Symptom Checklist 90-Revised. Results: There were no differences between the BMS and OB groups with respect to age, pain duration, pain intensity, life interference, and levels of psychologic distress. Patients with OB demonstrated more clinical abnormalities than BMS patients. Hyposalivation and greater use of prescription medications, most notably hormone replacement therapy, were more common in the OB group compared with the BMS group. When treatment was provided that corrected an identifiable abnormality, significantly more OB than BMS patients reported greater than 50% relief from baseline pain rating. Conclusion: These data indicate that while BMS and OB groups may initially present with similar clinical and psychosocial features, they are distinguishable with careful diagnosis that often enables successful management of symptoms for each group.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)305-311
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Orofacial Pain
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2002


  • Burning mouth syndrome
  • Classification
  • Psychological distress
  • Treatment outcome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Dentistry
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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