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Study calls for better guidelines to help diagnose burning mouth syndrome


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A new study on burning mouth syndrome has concluded that better guidelines are needed for dentists to more accurately diagnose patients who may be suffering from the disorder. (Photograph: Monster e/Shutterstock)

Fri. 26. July 2019


CLEVELAND, U.S.: Burning mouth syndrome (BMS) can be difficult to diagnose because it has similar symptoms to conditions such as dry mouth. In a new study, researchers from Case Western Reserve University have noted that physicians and researchers need better standards and guidelines to help improve care and to reduce the burden put on the health care system by misdiagnosis. A good start would be to reach a consensus for a single definition of BMS that encompasses specific inclusion and exclusion criteria.

“The issues with misdiagnosis, depend to some extent on the context, but include resources, money and patient discomfort,” said Dr. Milda Chmieliauskaite, co-author of the study and a researcher and Assistant Professor of Oral and Maxillofacial Medicine at the university. “So if a patient is misdiagnosed with burning mouth syndrome, but actually suffers from burning due to dry mouth, the patient will receive treatment for the wrong condition and the symptoms of burning will not improve. Often, these patients see several providers—taking up a lot of health care resources—before they find out what’s going.”

From their review of international BMS clinical trials that had been conducted between 1994 and 2017, Chmieliauskaite and a team of researchers from around the world found that many of the participants may have had an underlying condition that could have explained their symptoms. “A lot of the other things that cause burning in the mouth (such as diabetes, anemia and dry mouth) can be easily treated,” Chmieliauskaite said. She noted that, since the current method of diagnosis is to rule out other disorders, dentists and clinicians are not well trained on the topic.

Chmieliauskaite added, “We need a consensus for a single definition of BMS that includes specific inclusion and exclusion criteria. This will help us in moving the field forward in understanding of the actual disease.”

The study, titled “World Workshop on Oral Medicine VII: Burning mouth syndrome: A systematic review of disease definitions and diagnostic criteria utilized in randomized clinical trials,” was published in June 2019 in Oral Diseases as part of the proceedings of the World Workshop on Oral Medicine VII.

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