Burning mouth syndrome: experiences from the perspective of female patients
Burning mouth syndrome: experiences from the perspective of female patients
Magnus Hakeberg 1 , Lillemor R-M. Hallberg 2 , Ulf Berggren 1
1 Department of Endodontology/Oral Diagnosis, Faculty of Odontology, Göteborg University, Sweden; 2 Nordic School of Public Health, Göteborg, Sweden
Correspondence to Prof Lillemor R-M Hallberg, Nordic School of Public Health, Box 121 33, S−402 42 Göteborg, Sweden
Telefax: +46–31–691777
E-mail: Lillemor.Hallberg@nhv.se
Copyright 2003 Eur J Oral Sci
burning mouth syndrome (BMS) • qualitative research • psychological distress • orofacial pain
Hakeberg M, Hallberg LR-M, Berggren U. Burning mouth syndrome: experiences from the perspective of female patients. Eur J Oral Sci 2003; 111: 305–311. © Eur J Oral Sci, 2003


The aim of this study was to gain a deeper understanding of the development of burning mouth syndrome (BMS). Eighteen females (43–80 yr old), referred to the Clinic of Oral Medicine, formed the study group. Oral examination did not reveal any mucosal lesion or dental pathology, blood analyses of vitamin B12 and serum iron levels were within normal reference values, and no allergies to dental materials were reported. Reported pain/discomfort was 49.4 (mean) on a 100-mm visual analog scale and duration of symptoms was, on average, 8.1 yr (median = 1.5 yr). Taped semistructured interviews were transcribed and analysed in line with grounded theory methodology. In the analysis, a core category emerged, labeled communicating psychological discomfort. This category indicated musings about the meaning of life and interacted with a personality characterized by a strong need for conscientiousness, a life style including long-standing struggle with psychosocial overload, and external social and cultural influences. The debut of the BMS was then preceded by an acutely stressful event. A psychosocial history, in addition to a detailed dental and medical history, seems to be crucial in diagnosing patients. If a psychological disorder and somatization of anxiety and depression is suggested, as indicated in our study, the patient should be offered counseling by a psychologist.

Accepted for publication March 2003
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