Burning Mouth Syndrome
Burning Mouth Syndrome

MIRIAM GRUSHKA, M.SC., D.D.S., PH.D., William Osler Health Center, Etobicoke Campus, Toronto, Ontario, and Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut

JOEL B. EPSTEIN, D.M.D., M.S.D., University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, and University of Washington, Seattle, Washington

MEIR GORSKY, D.M.D., Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel

Burning mouth syndrome is characterized by a burning sensation in the tongue or other oral sites, usually in the absence of clinical and laboratory findings. Affected patients often present with multiple oral complaints, including burning, dryness and taste alterations. Burning mouth complaints are reported more often in women, especially after menopause. Typically, patients awaken without pain but note increasing symptoms through the day and into the evening. Conditions that have been reported in association with burning mouth syndrome include chronic anxiety or depression, various nutritional deficiencies, type 2 diabetes (formerly known as non­insulin-dependent diabetes) and changes in salivary function. However, these conditions have not been consistently linked with the syndrome, and their treatment has had little impact on burning mouth symptoms. Recent studies have pointed to dysfunction of several cranial nerves associated with taste sensation as a possible cause of burning mouth syndrome. Given in low dosages, benzodiazepines, tricyclic antidepressants or anticonvulsants may be effective in patients with burning mouth syndrome. Topical capsaicin has been used in some patients. (Am Fam Physician 2002;65:615-20,622. Copyright© 2002 American Academy of Family Physicians.)
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