Causes and Treatments of Leukoplakia

Leukoplakia is a dental condition categorized by the development of thick, white patches on your gums, cheeks and sometimes on a person’s tongue. They can’t just be scraped off, and professional treatment is recommended if you notice their onset. Below, we take a closer look at what causes the condition, and how a dentist or doctor can help you treat it.

Causes and Symptoms of Leukoplakia

Doctors and dentists don’t really know what causes leukoplakia, but they suspect that it is brought on by chronic irritation from tobacco products. Most cases of leukoplakia are noncancerous, although some can be cancerous and mouth cancer may form next to areas of leukoplakia. If you notice any odd formations, or white areas with red speckles, consult a medical professional.

Symptoms of leukoplakia include:

  • White or grayish patches on the gums, cheeks or tongue.
  • Thickened or hardened patches in your mouth.
  • Speckled red dots on the white patches.
  • Raised red lesions.
  • Persistent changes in tissues of your mouth.
  • Ear pain when swallowing.
  • Slow reduction in your ability to open your jaw.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Leukoplakia

Diagnosing the condition can be done by your dentist or doctor. They will look for the above symptoms, and they’ll ask about your tobacco use, family health history and rule out any other potential causes. If your dentist wants to ensure that the formation is non-cancerous, they may test the substance using a oral brush biopsy. This is a non-invasive procedure that collects cells from the source. A more invasive but more conclusive method involves removing some of the tissue and having it analyzed.

If the tests show that cancer is present, it will be surgically removed from your mouth. If the entire piece can be removed, the only additional treatment you may need is regular monitoring. If the development is non-cancerous, treatment involves removing part or all of the patches, stopping the source of irritation (giving up cigarettes or chewing tobacco) and getting regular check ups from your dentist. On rare occasions, the condition can be caused in part by a weakened immune system, which means the dentist or doctor will also provide a medications in addition to regular treatment.

Bloomington Dental Clinic

If you notice symptoms of leukoplakia, make an appointment with your dentist or family physician. The sooner it is treated, the better outcomes are. For more information, or to talk to Dr. Brooks about a mouth condition, reach out to his office today.