A literature review and pilot study to characterise the treatment of burning mouth syndrome.
Although the definition of burning mouth syndrome (BMS) can vary, the most commonly accepted is that of a burning sensation of normal appearing oral mucosa with no apparent underlying local or systemic contributing factors. The condition can be classified according to the patterns of burning experienced, the severity of the burning, as well as the pattern of onset. The management of these patients is difficult, since they are often seen by numerous clinicians and many unnecessary tests are performed in the hope of finding an underlying physical cause for the burning. No precise information pertaining to the natural history of BMS could be found. This paper consists of a selective review of the literature on BMS as well as a pilot study involving the standardised collection of data on 10 patients (9 women and 1 man) with BMS. These patients will be followed up in the long term in order to gather information pertaining to the natural history of this condition. No detectable local or systemic cause for the burning sensation could be found for any of the 10 subjects. The role of somatisation as a mechanism for burning sensation was investigated and certain proposals have been put forward regarding the management of such patients.