SciELO - Scientific Electronic Library Online

vol.10 número5Epidemiología de la patología de la mucosa oral más frecuente en niñosHiperplasia multifocal del epitelio: Reporte de nueve casos índice de autoresíndice de assuntospesquisa de artigos
Home Pagelista alfabética de periódicos  

Serviços Personalizados




Links relacionados

  • Em processo de indexaçãoCitado por Google
  • Não possue artigos similaresSimilares em SciELO
  • Em processo de indexaçãoSimilares em Google


Medicina Oral, Patología Oral y Cirugía Bucal (Ed. impresa)

versão impressa ISSN 1698-4447

Med. oral patol. oral cir. bucal (Ed.impr.) vol.10 no.5  Nov./Dez. 2005


Burning mouth syndrome: A retrospective study of 140 cases in a sample of catalan population
Síndrome de boca ardiente: Estudio retrospectivo de 140 casos en una muestra de la población catalana


Maria F. Palacios Sánchez (1), Xavier Jordana Comín (2), Carlos E. García Sívoli (3)

(1) Odontóloga, Diploma en Medicina Bucal. Unidad de Medicina Bucal. Prof. Dr. José Mª Conde Vidal. 
Facultat de Odontología, Universitat de Barcelona. España
(2) Profesor Asociado, Unitat d’Antropologia (BABVE), Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, España
(3) Profesor Asociado de Anatomía Dentaria, Facultad de Odontología, Universidad de Los Andes, Mérida, Venezuela

Unidad de Medicina Bucal. Facultad de Odontología.
Universitat de Barcelona. C/ Feixa Llarga, s/n
08907 L´Hospitalet de Llobregat , España.
Tel: 934024269

Received: 28-11-2004 Accepted: 13-05-2005

Palacios-Sánchez MF, Jordana-Comín X, García-Sívoli CE. Burning mouth syndrome: A retrospective study of 140 cases in a sample of catalan population. Med Oral Patol Oral Cir Bucal 2005;10:388-93.
© Medicina Oral S. L. C.I.F. B 96689336 - ISSN 1698-4447


The results of analyzing etiologic and clinical factors, and their connection with the burning mouth syndrome (BMS) in a sample of Catalan (Barcelona, Spain) population are presented in this work. The purpose of this study is to establish connections between BMS and the following variables: age, sex, overt depression, masked depression, cancerophobia, dry mouth, foreign body sensation in the mouth, and burning. 140 clinical cases of patients diagnosed with the disease and 140 cases of control patients are studied here. The data were statistically analyzed to study connections as well as the disease and variables frequency. The obtained results will help understanding possible connections of the studied etiologic and clinical factors with the disease, as well as the course of BMS, and its consequences in the Catalan population.

Key words: Burning mouth syndrome, symptomatic factors, etiologic factors, descriptive study, retrospective study, catalan population.


En este trabajo se presentan los resultados del análisis de factores etiológicos y clínicos y su relación con el síndrome de la boca ardiente (SBA) en una muestra de la población catalana (Barcelona, España). El objetivo del presente estudio es establecer las relaciones entre el síndrome de boca ardiente (SBA) y las siguientes variables: edad, sexo, depresión, depresión enmascarada, cancerofobia, sensación de boca seca, sensación de cuerpo extraño y quemazón, contribuyendo, así, al estudio epidemiológico de esta enfermedad en Cataluña. Se estudian 140 historias clínicas de pacientes diagnosticados con la enfermedad y 140 historias clínicas de pacientes control. Los datos fueron analizados estadísticamente para examinar las relaciones y frecuencias de las variables y la enfermedad. Los resultados obtenidos servirán para entender mejor las posibles relaciones de los factores etiológicos y clínicos estudiados con la enfermedad, así como el desarrollo del SBA y sus implicaciones en la población catalana.

Palabras clave: Síndrome de boca ardiente, factores sintomáticos, factores etiológicos, estudio descriptivo, estudio retrospectivo, población catalana.



The burning mouth syndrome (BMS) is a clinical entity characterized by the presence of chronic burning symptoms, heat or pain in the oral mucosa with no apparent signs, and obvious structural changes; or by the absence of local lesions (1). According to recent studies, the burning mouth syndrome affects 3.7% of the population (1, 2). The prevalence of this syndrome has been published in epidemiologic studies, in different countries and cultures (3). In the United States, 0.7% of the population is estimated to suffer this illness. Its prevalence is even higher in Europe, reaching 7% of the population (3). Around 1-3% of the adult population in developed countries is affected (4). Women’s is the most affected group (5.5%), while men’s rate is significantly lower (1.6%) (1, 2) BMS is more frequent during women’s climatery. 1% of cases occur in the fourth and fifth decade of life (5,6).

The etiology of BMS is unknown, yet some risk factors have been suggested and grouped in three main types: local, systemic, and psychological (7). It is often stated that these factors interaction is complex, and it is not possible differentiating whether they give origin to symptoms or whether symptoms determine the profile of patients suffering this illness (8). Among the local causes of the syndrome, it is possible to mention: mandible dysfunction; oral candidiasis; parafunctional habits; subjective xerostomia; allergic reactions; salivary glands dysfunction; wrongly adapted or designed prosthesis, or dysfunctions due to parafunctional movements of stomatognathic system (chronic involuntary movements of the tongue and mucosa nibbling) causing prosthesis removal. In literature, a connection between problems related to oral prosthesis (adjustment, design) and oral burning feeling is likely to be found, since both can cause central or peripheral changes in the sensorial nerve function, giving place to non-typical oral pains (9-11).

A number of systemic etiologic factors and causes can be related to the burning mouth syndrome. All nutritional anomalies can be counted among the etiologic factors: pernicious anemia, iron deficiency, Vitamin B deficiency, folates deficiency, and Vitamin C deficiency. Regarding systemic diseases, it is worthy to mention: mellitus diabetes, hormonal disorders, general chronic diseases and psychological disorders (12,13). Non controlled mellitus diabetes and some systemic conditions such as gastrointestinal reflux disease are also connected to BMS, more specifically the symptomatology referred to oropharyngeal areas and the base of the tongue (14). In a comparative study of patients with BMS and a control group, Hugoson y Thorstensson (1991) stated that 87.5% of BMS patients were regularly under systemic medication. Psychotropic drugs represented 44%, drugs for digestive disorders represented 25%, drugs for respiratory disorders represented 25%, and 6.2% of them were vitamins (15). Animal studies have been carried out to analyze the connection between dopaminics D1 and D2, and BMS. The results report that dopaminic receptors play a main role diminishing dopamine levels in patients with BMS (16). Depression, masked depression (state in which psychic symptoms are “masked”), and anxiety are counted among the psychological factors related to BMS. Some psychiatric studies connect anxiety and depression to the symptomatology of patients with BMS (17-20). A high incidence of cancerophobia (20%) can also be seen in these patients. There is an obvious connection between the patient’s emotional life and BMS; events such as losing a loving one, financial crisis, job or work stability loss, long stressful periods, and long term diseases are connected to BMS (21-23). Likewise, a connection between emotional disorders and the classification of BMS has been found. According to that, moderate anxiety disorders are related to BMS type 1, and severe psychiatric disorders are more related to BMS type 2 (24, 25). In short, psychiatric emotional and conduct disorders are related to over 50% of BMS cases (26).

Despite BMS has been widely studied, its etiology is still uncertain (27). Several reasons could explain that: Absence of appropriate diagnosis criteria standardization and absence of heterogeneous related studies; all of this makes difficult to understand the exact causes of the disease (20). The purpose of this study was to determine the probable connections between BMS and the following variables in a sample of Catalan population: age, sex, depression, masked depression, foreign body sensation in the mouth, and burning.


A retrospective study of 140 clinical cases of patients diagnosed with BMS was carried out. The cases were obtained from a private consulting stomatologist physician specialized in oral medicine, in Barcelona (Catalonia); those cases took place between 1978 and 2000. The following criteria were used to select the clinical stories of patients diagnosed with BMS: a. patients diagnosed with SBA of any type; b. presence of all or any of the studied variables; c. constant follow up over 6 months. The following variables were analyzed: age, sex, depression, masked depression, cancerophobia, burning, foreign body sensation in the mouth, and dry mouth. To carry out the study, patients were divided in five age groups. An equal number of patients (140 cases) were used as a control group. The middle value ages of patients in BMS group and in control group were 71.2 and 71.1 respectively (Table 1).

A descriptive and retrospective study of the clinical cases was carried out. The study consisted in observing clinical cases of patients diagnosed with BMS, as well as their behavior regarding the variables under study. The data were statistically analyzed with Pearson’s chi-square test (χ2), to observe if any difference was detected among the affectation frequencies of the studied variables in both groups. Likewise, a descriptive and multivariable analysis (multiple correspondence analysis) was carried out in order to observe the variables correlation with both groups. All data were analyzed with SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences), version 12.5 for Windows.


Regarding the distribution of BMS cases with respect to the age groups (Table 1), most cases (46.3 %) were located in the group aged 65-74 years. The group aged 75-84 years represented 31.4 %, while the group aged 55-64 years represented 14.2 %. Most of the studied cases (92,2%) are concentrated in these groups. Likewise, groups aged 45-54 years, and over 85 years represented the lowest rate of cases (7.8%).

The distribution of groups according to sex reported that most patients were female (96.4 %). Male patients were represented by two age groups: from 65 to 74, and from 75 to 84; 2.1% and 1.4% respectively (Table 1).

The analysis of variables reports a higher affectation rate in BMS group rather than in control group, showing important statistical differences except for the masked depression ( p<0.05) (Table 2).

The multiple correspondence analysis (Graph 1) reports the presence of dry mouth, burning feeling, foreign body sensation in the mouth, and cancerophobia to be closely related to BMS group, while their absence is related to control group; this can be seen in dimension 1. On the other hand, depression and masked depression are more related to the patient’s age rather than to BMS; this can be seen in dimension 2. In spite of that, a small connection between BMS and depression can be observed.


In this study, the middle value of patients’ age in BMS group is 71.2. When contrasting that value (71.2) with the results obtained in other studies (13, 17, 20, and 26), the middle value in this work appears to be 14.4 years higher than the middle value in compared works. It is important to highlight this result since, up-to-date, it has not been possible to find any other data with a middle value so high.

Most of cases are female (96.4%). This value is consistent with the results obtained in other studies, confirming the information found in specialized literature: female are more affected (1-3). The affectation rate considerably diminishes in men (3.5 %).

Regarding the studied variables, BMS is more related to the burning feeling (38.9 %) and with dry mouth (29.6%). Foreign body sensation and cancerophobia show slightly lower percentages. These results are similar to the ones obtained in other studies (2, 28-31), which places these features among the most frequent in BMS.

Depression and masked depression present a higher rate in BMS group (16.1% and 6.1% respectively). The opposite can be seen in control group: those variables present the lowest rates (9.3% and 4.6%). Despite so important differences, these results confirm that emotional states can be reflected through the mouth in BMS (32).

When comparing the results obtained in this study with the ones obtained in other studies (13, 28, 33), cancerophobia appears the most prevalent state consistent with BMS (28.2 %). However, the affectation rates obtained for depression and masked depression (22.2%) could not be related with the results obtained in other studies (5, 13, 17, 25, and 33).

The continuity of this kind of study is of high importance to understand more accurately the etiologic and symptomatologic profile of this disease, which, in many cases, is able to incapacitate the patient. It is important to study the possible connection with other symptomatic and etiologic variables; it will allow clearing up the epidemiologic behavior of this pathology, especially in Catalonia, where the epidemiologic data were obtained.


1. Petruzzi M, Lauritano D, De Benedittis M, Baldoni M, Serpico R. Systemic capsaicin for burning mouth síndrome: short-term results of a pilot study. J Oral Pathol Med 2004; 33: 111-4.        [ Links ]

2. Bergdahl M, Bergdahl J. Burning mouth Syndrome: prevalence and associated factors. J Oral Pathol Med 1999; 28: 350-4.        [ Links ]

3. Hakeberg M, Hallberg LR-M, Berggren U. Burning mouth syndrome: experiences from the perspective of female patients. Eur J Oral Sci 2003; 111: 305-11.        [ Links ]

4. Rhodus NL, Carlson CR, Miller CS. Burning mouth (syndrome) disorder. Quintessence International 2003; 34: 587-93.         [ Links ]

5. Ship JA, Grushka M, Lipton JA, Mott AE, Sessle BJ, Dionne RA. Burning mouth syndrome: an update. J Am Dent Assoc 1995; 126: 842-53.         [ Links ]

6. Frutos R, Rodríguez S, Miralles L, Machuca G. Oral manifestation and dental treatment in menopause. Medicina Oral 2002; 7: 26-30.         [ Links ]

7. Lamey PJ. Burning Mouth Syndrome. Dermatol Clin 1996; 14: 339-54.        [ Links ]

8. Velasco E, Valencia S, Blanco A, Velasco C. El síndrome de ardor bucal en el anciano. La identificación de los trastornos psíquicos en su etiopatogénia. Rev Esp Geriatr Gerodontol 1998; 33: 19-24.         [ Links ]

9. Svensson P, Kaaber S. General health factors and denture function in patients with burning mouth syndrome and matched control subjects. J Oral Rehabil 1995; 22: 887-95.         [ Links ]

10. Bergdahl M, Bergdahl J. Perceived taste disturbance in adults: prevalence and association with oral and psychological factors and medication. Clin Oral Invest 2002; 6: 145- 9.        [ Links ]

11. Marques Soares M. Estudio Clínico de Pacientes con Síndrome de boca Ardiente: xerostomía, flujo salival, medicamentos, ansiedad y depresión. Tesis doctoral. Universidad de Barcelona 2002. p. 37-53.        [ Links ]

12. Lamey PJ, Lamb AB. Prospective study of aetiological factors ii BMS. Br Med J 1988; 296: 1243-6.        [ Links ]

13. Soto-Araya M, Rojas-Alcayata G, Esguep A. Association between psychological disorders and the presence of Oral lichen planus, Burning mouth syndrome and Recurrent aphthous stomatitis. Med Oral 2004; 9: 1-7.        [ Links ]

14. Garcia-Bravatti M. Burning mouth syndrome. Am J Gastroenterol 1996; 91: 1281-2.        [ Links ]

15. Hugosson A, Thorstensson B. Vitamin B status and response to replacement therapy in patients with burning mouth syndrome. Acta Odontol Scand 1991; 49: 367-75.        [ Links ]

16. Hagelberg N, Forssell H, Rinne JO, Scheinin H, Taiminen T, Aalto S, et al. Striatal dopamine D1 and D2 receptors in burning mouth syndrome. Pain 2003; 101: 149-54.        [ Links ]

17. Asier Eguia DV, Aguirre Urizar JM, Martínez-Conde R, Echevarria Golkouria MA, Sagasti Pujana O. Burning Mouth Syndrome in the Basque Country: a preliminary study of 30 cases. Med Oral 2003; 8: 84-90.         [ Links ]

18. Bogetto F, Maina G, Ferro G, Carbone M, Gandolfo S. Psychiatric comorbidity in patients with burning mouth syndrome. Psychosomatic Med 1998; 60: 378-85.        [ Links ]

19. Carlson CR, Miller CS, Reid K. Psychosocial Profiles of Patients with Burning Mouth Syndrome. J Orofac Pain 2000; 14: 59-64.        [ Links ]

20. Forssell H, Jääskeläinen S, Tenovuo O, Hinkka S. Sensory dysfunction in burning mouth syndrome. Pain 2002; 99: 41-7.        [ Links ]

21. Jerlang BB. Burning mouth syndrome (BMS) and the concept of alexithymia-a preliminary study. J Oral Pathol Med 1997; 26: 249-53.         [ Links ]

22. De Rossi SS, Greenberg MS. Intraoral contact allergy : a literature review and case reports. J Am Dent Assoc 1998; 129: 1435-41.        [ Links ]

23. Sardello A, Uglietti D, Demanosi F, Lodi G, Bez C, Carrassi A. Benzydamine hydrochloride oral rinses in management of burning mouth syndrome. A clinical trial. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol Endod 1999; 88: 683-6.        [ Links ]

24. Bergdahl J, Anneroth G, Perris H. Personality characteristics of patients with resistant burning mouth syndrome. Acta Odontol Scand 1995; 53: 7-11.        [ Links ]

25. Paterson AJ, Lamb AB, Clifford TJ, Lamey PJ. Burning mouth syndrome: the relation between the HAD scale and parafunctional habits. J Oral Pathol Med 1995; 24: 289-92.        [ Links ]

26. Pinto A, Sollecito TP, De Rossi SS. Burning mouth syndrome. NY State Dental J 2003; 69: 18-24.         [ Links ]

27. Chimenos E, Marques M. Burning mouth and saliva. Med Oral 2002; 7: 244-53.        [ Links ]

28. Danhauer SC, Miller CS, Rhodus NL, Carlson CR. Impact of criteria-based diagnosis of burning mouth syndrome on treatment outcome. J Orofacial Pain 2002; 16: 305-11.        [ Links ]

29. Grushka M. Clinical features of burning mouth syndrome. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol 1987; 63: 30-6.         [ Links ]

30. Gorsky M, Silverman Jr S, Chinn H. Burning mouth syndrome: A review of 98 cases. J Oral Med 1987; 42: 7-9.        [ Links ]

31. Maresky LS, Van der Bijl P, Gird I. Burning mouth syndrome. Evaluation of multiple variables among 85 patients. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol 1993; 75: 303-7.        [ Links ]

32. Femiano F, Gombos F, Scully C. Burning Mouth Syndrome (BMS): open trial of psychotherapy alone, medication with alpha-lipoic acid (thioctic acid), and combination therapy. Med Oral 2004; 9: 8-13.        [ Links ]

33. Rojo L, Silvestre FJ, Bagan JV, De Vicente T. Prevalence of psychopathology in burning mouth syndrome. A comparative study among patients with and without psychiatric disorders and controls. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol 1994; 78: 312-6.        [ Links ]

Creative Commons License Todo o conteúdo deste periódico, exceto onde está identificado, está licenciado sob uma Licença Creative Commons