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Leukoplakia - What's Going on In Your Mouth?

Posted on 12/23/2015 by Nic Grasvik
A man holding a can of chewing tobacco.Have you noticed a strange, white-colored patch growing inside of your mouth? It could be leukoplakia, which is typically caused by chronic irritation. Find out what you need to know about this unsightly, but generally harmless condition.

Signs of Leukoplakia

Leukoplakia can have a variety of appearances, but changes are most likely to occur with the gums, inner cheeks, and tongue.

Leukoplakia often appears as a whitish patch that you can't wipe away. It may also appear as either flat-textured or irregular, and it can be hard and thickened in certain places. A hairy form of this condition can also occur, but it mostly affects people with suppressed immune systems, especially individuals living with HIV/AIDS.

Causes of Leukoplakia

The exact cause of leukoplakia is unknown, but tobacco use is often the culprit. Regular users of chewing tobacco often develop leukoplakia in the position where they hold the chew against their cheeks. Rough teeth and crowns, fillings, or dentures that don't fit properly can also cause the condition.

Identifying and Treating Leukoplakia

While leukoplakia is generally harmless, about 25% of cases can become cancerous. For this reason, your dentist may request a biopsy of the lesion in order to determine your risk. This will involve removing a tissue sample to examine it more closely under a microscope.

Leukoplakia will be treated by removing the lesion, and in most cases, removing the irritation source can be the best option. Giving up tobacco and cigarettes or correcting your dental issue can help to eliminate the lesion. In some cases, if the lesion does not go away on its own, surgery may be needed, but this will be evaluated on a case by case basis.

If you notice any strange lesions or discoloration in your mouth, give us a call to set up an appointment to check it out.

PREFERRED DENTAL
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Dr. Nicholas Grasvik
4690 SW Hall Blvd
Beaverton, OR 97005

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(503) 350-1234

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