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Botox A for OSMF: a novel therapeutic approach

Botox (botulinum toxin) is emerging as a potential treatment option for OSMF patients (RawPixel/ 5922435)

Wed. 24 January 2024


Oral Submucous Fibrosis (OSMF) is a chronic and potentially malignant condition that affects millions of people worldwide, particularly in Southeast Asia. [1] Although conventional treatments aim to control symptoms and slow down disease progression, recent research has explored the use of Botox (botulinum toxin) as a potential treatment option for OSMF patients [2].

In 1966, Pindborg defined OSMF as “an insidious chronic disease affecting any part of the oral cavity and sometimes pharynx. It is associated with juxta-epithelial inflammatory reaction followed by fibroelastic changes in the lamina propria layer, along with epithelial atrophy which leads to rigidity of the oral mucosa proceeding to trismus and an inability to eat.” [1]

Understanding OSMF:

OSMF occurs primarily due to the habit of chewing a mixture of areca nut, betel leaf, tobacco, and slaked lime. This leads to over synthesis of collagen in the underlying connective tissues of the oral cavity and degenerative changes in the muscles.[3] This condition predominantly affects the buccal mucosa, tongue, and soft palate. OSMF is associated with a host of symptoms including trismus, pain, burning sensation of mouth, dysphagia and dysarthria. [4]

The Mechanism of Botox:

Botulinum toxin is a neurotoxin that is derived from the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, a gram-positive anaerobic bacterium. It works by blocking the release of acetylcholine, which is the principal neurotransmitter at the neuromuscular junction. When injected intra-muscularly, it leads to partial paralysis of the muscles at the injection site.[5]
In the context of OSMF, Botox is injected into the surrounding masticatory muscles where it acts to relax the affected muscles and reduce muscle tension. By doing so, it alleviates trismus and related symptoms, making it easier for patients to open their mouths to speak and chew.

Potential benefits of Botox in OSMF:

  1. Improved mouth opening: Botox can be injected into the masticatory muscles to temporarily relax them, which can lead to improved mouth opening in some cases. [2]
  2. Pain relief: The muscle-relaxing properties of Botox can help reduce pain and discomfort in individuals suffering from OSMF [6].
  3. Enhanced oral function: Botox may help reduce the stiffness and fibrosis of oral tissues, which can help patients regain oral function. This can lead to enhanced speech, chewing ability, and improved oral hygiene.
  4. Better healing: Botox may promote tissue healing and reduce inflammation, potentially aiding in the treatment of OSMF [7].

Effectiveness of Botox in OSMF:

Research on the use of Botox in OSMF is still relatively limited, but the existing studies have shown encouraging outcomes. Many patients experience a significant improvement in mouth opening and a reduction in symptoms after these injections [2]. However, the effectiveness may vary depending on the severity of the fibrosis and individual patient factors.

Integrative approach:

While Botox has shown potential in managing OSMF symptoms, it should be viewed as a part of an integrative treatment plan. It's important to note that the use of Botox in OSMF is not a standard or widely-accepted treatment approach [2]. The primary management of OSMF focuses on addressing the underlying fibrosis and inflammation through lifestyle changes, medications, and, in severe cases, surgical procedures to release fibrous bands.

By combining Botox with conventional therapies such as dietary modifications, cessation of areca nut and betel quid, and physical therapy, patients with OSMF can receive comprehensive care that can enhance long-term results.

Personalized treatment:

Patients suffering from OSMF should first undergo a comprehensive evaluation by a qualified specialist having experience in treating the condition before considering Botox treatment. Each case is unique, and the treatment plan should be customized according to the individual patient's needs and medical history.


The use of Botox in managing Oral Submucous Fibrosis is a promising advancement in the field of oral medicine that can enhance patients' quality of life. It's essential to continue ongoing research and maintain a comprehensive approach to treatment to optimize outcomes and provide the best care for OSMF patients.


  1. Pindborg, J. J. (1966). Oral submucous fibrosis as a precancerous condition. Journal of Dental Research, 45(3), 546-553.
  2. Shandilya S., Mohanty S., Sharma P., Chaudhary Z., Kohli S., Kumar R.D. Effect of botulinum toxin-A on pain and mouth opening following surgical intervention in oral submucous fibrosis - A controlled clinical trial. J Craniomaxillofac Surg [2]0[2]1; 49: 675-81.
  3. Tilakaratne, W. M., Klinikowski, M. F., Saku, T., Peters, T. J., & Warnakulasuriya, S. ([2]006). Oral submucous fibrosis: review on aetiology and pathogenesis. Oral oncology, 4[2](6), 561-568.
  4. Shih, Y. H., Wang, T. H., Shieh, T. M., & Tseng, Y. H. ([2]019). Oral submucous fibrosis: a review on etiopathogenesis, diagnosis, and therapy. International journal of molecular sciences, [2]0(1[2]), [2]940.
  5. Simpson LL. The origin, structure, and pharmacological activity of botulinum toxin. Pharmacol Rev. 1981 Sep;33(3):155-88. PMID: 6119708.
  6. Sim WS. Application of botulinum toxin in pain management. Korean J Pain. [2]011 Mar;[2]4(1):1-6. doi: 10.3344/kjp.[2]011.[2]4.1.1. Epub [2]011 Feb [2]5. PMID: [2]139017[2]; PMCID: PMC3049971.
  7. Yoo KY, Lee HS, Cho YK, Lim YS, Kim YS, Koo JH, Yoon SJ, Lee JH, Jang KH, Song SH. Anti-inflammatory effects of botulinum toxin type a in a complete Freund's adjuvant-induced arthritic knee joint of hind leg on rat model. Neurotox Res. [2]014 Jul;[2]6(1):3[2]-9. doi: 10.1007/s1[2]640-013-9447-7. Epub [2]013 Dec 1[2]. PMID: [2]4338136.

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