One oral problem that many people may not be too familiar with but can be potentially serious is oral leukoplakia. While most cases of leukoplakia may not be considered as dangerous and may disappear on its own, there is always the risk of the more serious cases developing into oral cancer. There is therefore a need to have immediate treatment should leukoplakia be diagnosed by your doctor.
What is Oral Leukoplakia?
Leukoplakia is condition that is characterized by white or gray patches that develop on the tongue, the inside of the cheek, and the bottom of the mouth. The onset of leukoplakia has been thought to be the reaction of the mouth to chronic irritation of the mucous membranes found in the mouth. This condition is fairly common among the elderly people although these patches may appear at any stage of a person’s life.
What are the Symptoms of Leukoplakia?
The best indication of oral leukoplakia is the appearance of white or gray patches that are present on the tongue, gums, inside of the cheek, and bottom and top of the mouth. These patches may have anirregular texture and may harden or thickened over time. While generally painless, it can be sensitive to any type ofcontact such as food, drinks, and even a tooth brush.
If the condition is what is clinically called hairy leukoplakia, the appearance may include patches of raised and white or colored lesions. If found, for example, on the side of the tongue, this disorder maybe linked to deficiencies in the immune system such as in HIV/AID infection. As such, should these signs appear, medical attention should be sought immediately.
What are the Causes of Leukoplakia?
While the exact cause has not been known yet, medical experts have recognized that there are factors associated with the development of leukoplakia. Irritation from any rough teeth, fillings, crowns, or dentures that may rub against the gum or check has been considered a leading cause. One other factor blamed for this condition is chronic cigarette smoking or any type of tobacco use. Exposure of the lips towards the sun has also been thought to be a risk factor. For the hairy leukoplakia type, HIV/AIDS have been accepted as the main cause.
How is Leukoplakia Treated?
Treatment of leukoplakia would involve the removal of the source of irritation. If the cause is a rough tooth or an ill-fitting denture, then these would be corrected by the dentist. It the reason behind the condition is smoking, then the patient would have to cut down or entirely eliminate his or her smoking habit. If these remedies are not effective, there might be a need for a surgical procedure to remove the lesions and patches.
This condition can be prevented by proper dental care and having any defects in the teeth or dentures or filling corrected by the dentist. With regular dental visits, this condition may be immediately noted by the dentist before it can get worse.