Leukoplakia is a condition in which the inside of the mouth experiences patches or white spots. Generally, this condition is caused by mouth irritation due to frequent smoking, tobacco use, and alcohol. Find out what leukoplakia is, symptoms, causes, treatment, etc.
What is Leukoplakia?
Leukoplakia is a condition in which the inner mouth experiences patches, thickened skin, and white or grayish spots. This condition can also form around the gums, the bottom of the mouth, tongue, and inside of the cheeks.
Generally, white spots on the mouth occur due to mouth irritation due to tobacco use in any way, smoking, and using alcohol. These mouth patches are benign or non-cancerous, but these symptoms can be an early sign of oral cancer.
Symptoms of Leukoplakia
This condition is painless and is generally not realized. Symptoms include:
- White and grayish spots that cannot be removed
- Spots have a hard texture, thickened, with a raised surface
- Red spots in certain conditions
- Irregular spotting locations
This condition occurs under the tongue, under the mouth, the surface of the tongue, gums, or on the inside cheeks. The spots may become thicker and develop in a few weeks.
Also Read: Signs of HPV Infection in the Mouth and How to Prevent it
When to see a doctor?
Most people are not aware of experiencing this condition because it does not cause pain or discomfort, but you must be careful because this could be a sign of a more serious condition.
Contact your doctor immediately if you have one or more of these symptoms, including:
- White, red, or dark patches or patches in the mouth.
- Tissue, color, spots, and condition of the mouth change constantly.
- Feel pain in the ear when swallowing.
- Difficult to open the jaw or uncomfortable and aching.
Causes of Leukoplakia
The exact cause is unknown, but chronic irritation of the mouth tissue due to smoking, alcohol use, and tobacco is thought to be a major factor.
Other causes of chronic irritation include:
- Broken teeth which then injure the tongue or flesh of the inner cheek.
- Damage to the dentures you use.
- Uneven, pointed, or jagged tooth structure that injures the inner mouth when biting or talking.
- Inflammation of the mouth area.
Exposure to human papilloma virus ( HPV ) is also thought to be related to this condition, but there is not enough medical evidence to support that statement.
Risk Factors for Leukoplakia
People who use tobacco and alcohol long-term have a higher risk of experiencing this condition. Risk factors are even higher in people who use smokeless tobacco and also drink alcohol at the same time.
Diagnosis of Leukoplakia
The diagnosis of leukoplakia is done by oral examination. Your doctor will check for spots on your mouth that are indicated as symptoms of leukoplakia. This condition is not like canker sores that are easily treated.
The doctor may conduct additional tests to determine the cause, treatment, and prevention so that the condition does not recur again. The doctor may take a sample of the patches inside to the pathologist to check whether the sample has precancerous cells.
Leukoplakia can be divided into several types, including:
The condition of the inside of the mouth with thin white patches and smooth or jagged surface on the entire surface. Generally, these symptoms do not cause pain or other complaints when eating or chewing. These patches can also disappear without special care.
Large patches of white, grayish, or reddish with nodules or lumps and are verrucous (raised). This condition may be risky or an early sign of oral cancer.
3. Hairy Leukoplakia
Oral hairy leukoplakia (OHL) is a condition of hairy patches in the mouth due to infection with the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). The virus is actually inactive, but can reactivate when your immune system is weakened mainly due to HIV / AIDS.
4. Proliferative Verucative Leukoplakia (PVL)
Reddish spots are rare but aggressive. This condition is also caused by the Epstein-Barr virus. This condition can develop into oral cancer.
Also Read: Oral Cancer: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment
Most of the spots in this condition do not need medication or special treatment because it will improve by itself. Provided you do not trigger the severity of leukoplakia with various factors such as smoking and drinking alcohol.
In less severe conditions, you only need to have regular health consultations with your doctor to check if the patches are developing or worsening. If not, your doctor may suggest other treatments, such as:
- Spotting Removal: Spotting removal by laser therapy, scalpel, or freezing procedure.
- Drugs: How to treat leukoplakia with antiviral drugs orally or topically to treat Epstein-Barr virus .
If this condition is suspected as a sign of oral cancer, the doctor will further examine it with the removal of these patches to prevent cancer cells from spreading. If it is caused by a dental problem, then consult a dentist to overcome this condition.
Complications of Leukoplakia
Generally, this condition does not cause severe damage to the mouth tissue and can disappear with treatment for several weeks. If patches develop, pain, and irritation increase, you should consult a doctor.
This condition may be an early symptom of oral cancer or HIV / AIDS. Tell your doctor if patches in your inner mouth do not heal and get worse.
Prevention of Leukoplakia
Many cases can be prevented by lifestyle changes:
- Stop smoking or chewing tobacco.
- Reduce alcohol use.
- Eat foods rich in antioxidants such as spinach and carrots. Antioxidants can help deactivate the irritation that causes spots.
Contact your health care provider immediately if you have symptoms of white plaque or tricycles in your mouth. They can help you keep the patches from getting worse.
Here are some ways to prevent leukoplakia:
- Avoid smoking or using other types of tobacco.
- Avoid drinking alcohol.
- Pay attention to oral and dental health, consult with a dentist every 6 months.
- Consume foods high in oxidants such as berries, spinach, apples, carrots, etc.
Consumption of antioxidants can support the healing of natural blotches. Antioxidants will repair damaged mouth tissue. The rest, improve your immune system to maintain general health.
That is a complete discussion about what leukoplakia is. Leukoplakia is white and thick patches in the mouth due to tissue irritation. I hope this information is helpful!