CRVAW Faculty Journal Articles


Psychosocial Profiles of Patients with Burning Mouth Syndrome


AIMS: Burning mouth syndrome (BMS) is estimated to affect 1 to 5% of the adult population, with women experiencing symptoms more frequently than men. The purpose of this study was to examine the psychosocial profiles of BMS patients to determine whether psychologic factors are related to pain reports. Based on previous literature, it was hypothesized that patients with BMS would be characterized by clinical elevations on standardized psychologic assessment instruments that included the Revised Symptom Checklist (SCL-90R) and the Multidimensional Pain Inventory (MPI).

METHODS: Thirty-three BMS patients completed the McGill Pain Questionnaire, MPI, and SCL-90R during their initial clinical evaluation session. The SCL-90R and MPI data were then summarized and presented in standardized format (T-scores) to enable meaningful comparisons with larger population samples that included both a chronic pain population and a normal nonclinical sample.

RESULTS: The T-score for the overall pain severity on the MPI was 40.8 (SD 12.8). For the entire BMS sample, there was no evidence for significant clinical elevations on any of the SCL-90R subscales, including depression, anxiety, and somatization. Moreover, patients reported significantly fewer disruptions in normal activities as a result of their oral burning pain than did a large sample of chronic pain patients.

CONCLUSION: These findings indicate that, as a group, this sample of BMS patients did not report significant psychologic distress. There were, however, individual cases (7 of 33, or 21%) where psychometric data indicated a likelihood of psychologic distress, and further evaluation by a competent health professional would be warranted for those individuals.

Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2000

Notes/Citation Information

Published in Journal of Orofacial Pain, v. 14, no. 1, p. 59-64.