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The Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment of Leukoplakia

teeth health smile dentistLeukoplakia is the medical term for a white patch in the mouth.

Mose Leukoplakia’s are harmless however they require testing to confirm their diagnosis as Leukoplakia is closely linked to an increased risk of oral cancer.

Symptoms of leukoplakia

Leukoplakia will in most cases affect the inner lining of the cheeks, the tongue, the gums, and the bottom of the mouth under the tongue. The condition will cause thick, raised white patches on the mucous membranes in the mouth.

These patches may also have a translucent or gray appearance and have an area with clear margins. Leukoplakia patches are normally painless. In rare cases, the leukoplakia patches will be seen in the genital area.

Causes of leukoplakia

Some of the factors that play role in the development of the condition are:

  • Prolonged or excessive tobacco use.
  • Conditions that cause ulcers.
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Poorly fitting dentures, braces, bite plates, or retainers
  • Conditions that compromise the immune system such as HIV, chemotherapy, and organ surgery.
  • Poor oral hygiene.
  • Severe or frequent burning of the mouth from hot liquids or foods.
  • Excessive or prolonged use of abrasive oral products like teeth whiteners.
  • Excessive alcohol use.
  • Jagged or rough teeth surfaces.
  • Excessive or prolonged use of steroid inhalers.
  • Cheek or tongue biting.
  • Chewing certain nuts and leaves such as betel leaf and areca nut.

Very often, white patches in the mouth will resolve without the need for treatment. Good oral hygiene and stopping any irritating activities will help resolve the problem. A white patch that disappears on it’s own within 2 weeks or less requires no investigation or treatment.

White patches in the mouth lasting more than 2 weeks may signal serious health complications that warrant visiting your dentist for assessment, testingand referral to a specialist if required.

Leukoplakia raises the risk of oral cancer. Most Oral tumors will begin within persistent or severe leukoplakia patches. The risk of a longstanding leukoplakia giving rise to oral cancer is around 5%.

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Dr Ashley Davenport BDS MFGDP(UK)

I qualified as a dentist in 1995 and can honestly say that I have been doing a job that I love for the past 20 plus years. Most people who know me well know that dentistry is a passion for me and that if I won the lottery I would still want to have some dentistry in my life. I get huge satisfaction from treating patients and making a difference to ...

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Dr Catherine Myatt BDS MFGDP(UK)

Cath joined the practice as a dentist in 2002.  She and Ashley met on their postgraduate Vocational Training course in Birmingham when they ended up working at the same practice in West Bromwich.  When Ashley was looking for an associate at Balsall Common Dental Practice, Cath came to take the role and she has been here ever since.  In 2017 Cath...

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Last updated: September 28th, 2023

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