Burning Mouth Syndrome

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Source: American Family Physician. 65(4): 615-620. February 15, 2002.

Contact: Available from American Academy of Family Physicians. Publications Division, 11400 Tomahawk Creek Parkway, Leawood, KS 66211-2672. (800) 944-0000. Website: www.aafp.org/ afp.

Summary: This article discusses burning mouth syndrome (BMS), a condition that 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 BMS include chronic anxiety or depression, various nutritional deficiencies, type 2 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 BMS symptoms. Recent studies have pointed to dysfunction of several cranial nerves associated with taste sensation as a possible cause of BMS. Given in low dosages, benzodiazepines, tricyclic antidepressants, or anticonvulsants may be effective in patients with BMS. Topical capsaicin has also been used in some patients. 1 table. 31 references.

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