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Oral Submucous Fibrosis: Burning Sensation In The Mouth


Oral submucous fibrosis (OSF) is a chronic, debilitating disease that affects the oral cavity. It is most prevalent in South Asia, particularly in India, where betel nut chewing is a common habit. 

OSF is characterized by the progressive fibrosis or scarring of the oral tissues, including the cheeks, tongue, and lips, leading to limited mouth opening, difficulty in eating, and speech impairment. In this article, we will discuss the symptoms, causes, and treatment options for this condition.


The most common symptom of OSF is a burning sensation in the mouth. Over time, the oral tissues become progressively stiff, leading to difficulty in opening the mouth, swallowing, and speaking. In advanced stages, the tongue may become immobile, making it impossible to speak clearly or eat solid foods. Other symptoms of OSF may include the formation of ulcers, blisters, and white patches on the oral mucosa, as well as pain and sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures.

Causes of OSF

OSF is primarily caused by the prolonged use of areca nut or betel quid, a popular stimulant in South Asian countries. The areca nut contains alkaloids such as arecoline, which has been shown to have a fibrogenic effect on the oral tissues. Other contributing factors include poor oral hygiene, nutritional deficiencies, and genetic predisposition.


The treatment of OSF primarily focuses on the prevention of disease progression and the improvement of oral function. Firstly, in mild cases, quitting betel nut chewing and improving oral hygiene may be sufficient to prevent further damage. Secondly, in more severe cases, corticosteroids may be prescribed to reduce inflammation and improve mouth opening. To improve oral function, healthcare providers may recommend physical therapy and mouth stretching exercises. Advanced cases may require surgical interventions such as split-thickness skin grafts or nasolabial flaps to release the fibrotic bands and restore oral function.


The best way to prevent OSF is to avoid or quit the use of areca nut or betel quid. Good oral hygiene practices can also help prevent the development of this condition. They include brushing twice daily, flossing, and regular dental check-ups.


Oral submucous fibrosis is a chronic and debilitating disease that primarily affects people in South Asia. The use of betel nut or areca nut primarily causes the condition. It contains alkaloids that have a fibrogenic effect on the oral tissues. Additionally, the best way to prevent the development of OSF is to avoid or quit the use of areca nut or betel quid. Finally, if the disease has already progressed, healthcare providers may recommend various treatment options, including corticosteroids, physical therapy, and surgical interventions. In conclusion, early detection and treatment can help prevent further damage and improve oral function.

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