Aims: Burning mouth syndrome (BMS) primarily affects postmenopausal
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.