Placebo effect in burning mouth syndrome: a systematic review

Oral Dis. 2014 Apr;20(3):e1-6. doi: 10.1111/odi.12192. Epub 2013 Oct 25.


Placebo controls play a critical role in the evaluation of any pharmacotherapy. This review surveys the placebo arm in 12 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) investigating burning mouth syndrome (BMS) and documents a positive placebo response in 6 of them. On average, treatment with placebos produced a response that was 72% as large as the response to active drugs. The lack of homogeneity in the use of placebos adds to the difficulty in comparing results and aggregating data. Future RCTs investigating BMS would benefit from larger sample sizes, adequate follow-up periods, and use of a standard placebo.

Keywords: BMS; burning mouth syndrome; oral dysesthesia; placebo; randomized control trials; treatment.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Burning Mouth Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Placebo Effect
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Treatment Outcome