Objectives The cardinal symptom of burning mouth syndrome (BMS) is long-lasting pain and comprehensive health-related quality of life (HRQL) assessments may estimate how well patients with BMS live in relation to their health issues. The aims of the study were to explore general and BMS-specific HRQL based on an HRQL model and to compare HRQL in patients with BMS and age-matched controls. Methods For this case-control study 56 female patients with BMS and 56 female controls completed the following: A general questionnaire with Global items for life satisfaction, general health and oral health; General Population-Clinical Outcomes in Routine Evaluation (GP-CORE); Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS); and Oral Health Impact Profile-14 (OHIP-14). Patients with BMS completed additional questionnaires which included BMS-problem severity, a global item for ratings of overall severity perceptions measured by visual analog scale (VAS); and BMS-modified Multidimensional Pain Inventory-Swedish version (MPI-S). BMS-modified MPI-S includes the three subscales Pain severity, Interference and Social support. Results Patients with BMS scored worse on all global items, GP-CORE, HADS and OHIP-14 compared to controls and the differences were large. Patients with severe BMS problems, as defined by a median split on BMS-problem severity, scored worse on the BMS-modified MPI-S subscale Pain severity and the difference was large. Conclusions We found clearly impaired general HRQL in patients with BMS compared to controls. For specific HRQL, the severity of pain was worse among patients with higher overall BMS-problem severity. The HRQL model with global ratings together with physical, psychological and social concepts has capacity to increase comparability and validity of studies, however further evaluations of the measures are needed. The HRQL model may be used over time to increase the understanding of different HRQL aspects and their internal relationships. In clinical settings, with an increased knowledge of one´s own distinctive quality of life abilities and restrictions, the patients with BMS can be guided and supported to manage their long-lasting pain. The HRQL model may be an aid toward bridging distinctions between general and oral health to further encourage collaboration between medicine and odontology.