Burning mouth syndrome and peripheral neuropathy in patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus

J Diabetes Complications. Nov-Dec 2007;21(6):397-402. doi: 10.1016/j.jdiacomp.2006.08.001.


Objective: Burning mouth syndrome (BMS) has been attributed secondarily to diabetes, poor glycemic control, and diabetic neuropathy. The prevalence and predictor factors of BMS were compared in type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) and nondiabetic subjects.

Study design: An assessment of 371 adult T1DM subjects and 261 control subjects participating in a cross-sectional epidemiological study of oral health complications of diabetes was performed. Subjects were participants of the Pittsburgh Epidemiology of Diabetes Complications study. Prevalence of BMS was determined by response to the following questions: "Do you now or in the last month had any persistent uncomfortable sensations in your mouth or tongue? If yes, would you describe the feeling as tingling, burning, sore, numb, or other?"

Results: Burning mouth syndrome symptoms were reported by 28 T1DM and control subjects (4.6%). Eleven had oral pathologies that might explain the BMS, including atrophy of the tongue papillae, fissured tongue, denture stomatitis, and candidiasis. The prevalence of BMS within the two groups with no pathologies was similar; 12/371 (3.2%) vs. 5/233 (2.1%). Multivariate analyses of the 12 T1DM subjects with BMS found significant associations for female gender (P=.042) and a diagnosis of diabetic peripheral neuropathy (P=.024).

Conclusions: In this T1DM population, BMS or related discomforts occurred slightly more frequently than in the control group. Symptomatic T1DM subjects were more likely to be female who had also developed peripheral neuropathy. These findings and other similarities between BMS and diabetic peripheral neuropathy suggest that a neuropathic process may be an underlying source of BMS in some patients who have no apparent oral abnormality.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age of Onset
  • Burning Mouth Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Burning Mouth Syndrome / etiology*
  • Burning Mouth Syndrome / pathology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / physiopathology*
  • Diabetic Neuropathies / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires