Instant relief of BMS may be possible through low-level laser therapy according to Hebrew University researchers 

A new study by Hebrew University of Jerusalem researchers indicates that photobiomodulation (PBM), also known as low-level laser therapy, could offer immediate pain relief for Burning Mouth Syndrome (BMS) patients.

low-level laser therapy
(Image: The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

According to the research published in Oral Diseases, findings highlight the potential of PBM as a promising treatment for BMS, despite some nuances in its effectiveness.

BMS is a painful, difficult-to-diagnose condition often described as a scalding or tingling feeling in the mouth that may occur every day for months or longer. While BMS can occur in anyone, it is seen more often in women than in men, particularly those experiencing perimenopause and menopause. Research suggests it affects menopausal women seven times more often than men, and that up to one-fifth of women in their 50s and older develop the condition. As a result, there is a critical need for comprehensive research and effective therapeutic interventions.

The study, utilising low-level laser therapy to stimulate cell function, was conducted by Dr Yaron Haviv, Dr Ori Finfter, Prof Doron Aframian, and their team from the Oral Medicine Department at the Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Dental Medicine. Thirty BMS patients received intraoral treatment for 10 weeks. Pain assessments were conducted using the Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) immediately after each treatment, with a calculation of weekly average VAS aiming to evaluate both the immediate and long-term effects of PBM on alleviating BMS symptoms.

Results from the study revealed a substantial decrease in the initial pain score, as measured by the VAS, from 7.80 to 2.07 after the treatments (p < 0.001). Although there was a slight increase in the average pain score to 5.73 in the week following the last treatment, it remained significantly lower than the initial score (p = 0.017). Notably, the researchers observed a trend of continued improvement in pain relief with additional treatments, particularly up to the third session. Moreover, the study highlighted that PBM demonstrated enhanced efficacy for male patients or those experiencing pain on only one side of their mouth (p = 0.017, 0.022, respectively).

These findings open new possibilities for understanding and addressing the challenges posed by BMS, offering hope for improved therapeutic interventions in the future.

The paper, titled “Photobiomodulation alleviates Burning Mouth Syndrome pain: Immediate and weekly outcomes explored” and published in Oral Diseases.

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem is Israel’s premier academic and research institution, serving over 23,000 students from 80 countries, and produces nearly 40% of Israel’s civilian scientific research and has received over 11,000 patents. Faculty and alumni of the Hebrew University have won eight Nobel Prizes and a Fields Medal.

Related: Photobiomodulation: An updated literature review with a case report