Leukoplakia is a condition in which thick, white patches form on the tongue and the lining of the cheeks of the mouth. Leukoplakia patches cannot be removed through brushing or scraping. It can take weeks for leukoplakia to develop. Many of the cases of leukoplakia do not result in long-term damage to the tissues of the mouth. In certain cases there may be a link between leukoplakia and some types of oral cancer.
Symptoms Of Leukoplakia
The symptoms of leukoplakia may vary from patient to patient. Patches may appear on the tissues of the cheeks, the bottom of the mouth, the tongue, or on the gums. The patches may be white or gray in color. It is common for leukoplakia patches to have a hardened or thickened raised surface. In some cases, leukoplakia patches may also have small red lesions. Leukoplakia patches that are accompanied by red lesions may be a sign of oral cancer. The symptoms of leukoplakia should not be ignored. Sores or other problems affecting the tissues of the mouth that do not heal within two weeks should be evaluated by an oral surgeon.
Causes Of Leukoplakia
• Irritation from rough teeth, fillings, crowns, or ill-fitting dentures that rub against the cheek or gum
• Chronic smoking, pipe smoking or other tobacco use
• Sun exposure to the lips
• HIV or AIDS
• Oral cancer
Even though leukoplakia does not usually cause any pain, removing the patch that forms in the mouth is an important goal of treatment as it should reduce your risk of developing mouth cancer. Tobacco use such as smoking or chewing tobacco can cause leukoplakia. Ill-fitting dentures may also cause leukoplakia to develop. In cases where tobacco use is the cause of leukoplakia, no longer smoking or chewing tobacco may be the only treatment necessary. Dentures that do not fit properly may irritate the gums, lining of the cheeks, or the tongue. Improving the fit of the dentures can eliminate the irritation causing the leukoplakia patches to form. Leukoplakia patches that show signs of cancer must be surgically removed. An oral surgeon will use a scalpel or a laser to remove the leukoplakia patches.
To learn more about leukoplakia treatments, or if you would like to schedule an appointment, please contact Prestige Oral Surgery at 732-297-7000.