It is difficult to confirm BMS epidemiological data because of a lack of universally accepted diagnostic criteria.18,29 Various international studies suggest the syndrome may affect between 0.6% to 15% of the population, but the prevalence may be considerably higher in middle-aged and elderly individuals with a significant female predilection and a higher rate found in peri- and post-menopausal women. However, the prevalence increases markedly with age in both sexes.53
The disorder may last for months or years, often without a definitive diagnosis, and it may have a profound effect on the patient’s perceived quality of life. The patient may complain of burning pain in the tongue, hard palate, other mucosal sites and even combinations of oral sites. Often the oral burning, pain, numbness, scalding, tingling, puritic sensations or changes in taste, force the patient to search for answers and assume the problem is best treated by a general dentist.
Thoppay, et al. states there is often no differentiation between BMS and oral burning.4,39 Since the variations of symptoms occur and each patient reports very subjective complaints, the diagnostic process becomes even more complicated. Thoppay et al also points out the methodology of research is varied with many studies using subjective surveys and others reporting documented clinical findings.39 These factors complicate the clear consensus, and these stated problems have added to the variation of reported statistics and treatment modalities.31
See Table 1 for more information on classifications. The disorder may last for months or years, often without a definitive diagnosis, and it may have a profound effect on the patient’s perceived quality of life and the level of frustration in not being able to obtain a definitive diagnosis. The patient may complain of burning, pain in the tongue, hard palate, other mucosal sites and even combinations of oral sites.