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Burning Mouth Syndrome (BMS)


BMS is characterized by an intraoral burning sensation for which no medical or dental cause can be found. Pain may be restricted to the tongue or just the tip of the tongue and may be associated with tingling, burning, itching, cold sensation, numbness, altered taste, and dry mouth. The uncommon condition predominantly affects postmenopausal women females. 



There is no definitive cause of BMS but it is thought to be associated with trigeminal small-fiber sensory neuropathy and/or a high number of unoccupied Dopamine D2 receptors in the putamen. The trigeminal nerve is a part of the nervous system and is responsible for sending pain, touch, and temperature sensation from your face to your brain. The putamen is involved in learning and motor functions. 



  • Oral pain recurring for more than 2 hours per day for greater than 3 months 
  • Pain: burning quality and superficially in the oral mucosa 
  • Oral mucosa is normal and clinical exam including sensory testing is normal 

Prior to making diagnosis, it is important to rule out mucosal diseases, such as herpes simplex and aphthous stomatitis. 



Differentiate between primary and secondary BMS. 

  • Treat underlying conditions if present. 
  • Pain and symptom alleviation: 
  • Antihistamines, lidocaine, capsaicin, BZDS, TCAs, and antipsychotics, or anticonvulsants. 



What can BMS be treated at home? 

Drink lots of water; avoid spicy foods, alcohol, and tobacco; reduce stress. 


What is the difference between BMS and Sjogren’s Syndrome (SS)? 

SJS is an autoimmune condition characterized by dry eyes and mouth, often accompanied by immune disorders such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. BMS is a chronic or recurrent burning in the mouth with no obvious cause. 


What puts me at risk for developing BMS? 

Recent illness, previous dental procedures, allergic reactions to food, stress, anxiety, depression, autoimmune disorders diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, fibromyalgia, certain medication, and traumatic life events 



Coculescu EC, Radu A, Coculescu Bl. Burning mouth syndrome: a review on diagnosis and treatment. / Medlife. 2014;7(4):512-515 (link reference to 

Aljanobi H, Sabharwal A, Krishnukumar B, Kramer JM. Is it Siogren’s syndrome or burning mouth syndrome? Distinct pathoes with similar oral symptoms. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol. 2017 Apr;123(4):482-495.

Ho CC, Khan SA, Garza I. Overview of craniofacial pain. Uptodate Inc.; 2022. Updated February 8, 2022. Accessed May 9, 2022  

Klasser GD. Burning mouth syndrome linked to menopause. Spec Care Dentist. 2011;7(9)  

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