Leukoplakia commonly occurs when a gray or white patch starts developing on the affected individual’s tongue, the cheek’s inside, or the mouth’s floor. This oral disease is actually the reaction of the mouth to the mucous membranes’ chronic irritation. The condition can also affect the genital areas of women; but the cause isn’t known.
The patches may start occurring at any point in life, but the condition most commonly affects senior adults. The mouth’s hairy leukoplakia is an unusual type of leukoplakia that affects individuals infected with AIDS or HIV. The condition is characterized by the appearance of fuzzy, white patches on the tongue. Leukoplakia is often confused with thrush, which is an infectious disease that results from improper functioning of the immune system.
The condition is typically caused by irritation resulting from rough teeth, ineffective dental crowns or ill-fitting dentures. However, leukoplakia may also be associated with other diseases like oral cancer, AIDS or HIV. Smokers are also at a greater risk of experiencing the condition, and so are individuals with excessive sun exposure, particularly to their lips.
The appearance of gray or white patches on the tongue, the cheek’s inside, or the mouth’s floor is the most common sign of this condition. These patches may start showing up slowly or they may take months, only to become thicker and slightly raised while taking on hardened or rough textures. The condition is typically painless, but may cause the affected areas to become sensitive to touch, hot or cold temperatures or spices in foods.
Usually, when the dentist suspects the disease upon oral evaluation; a biopsy is suggested to figure out the causes associated with the condition, which could be oral cancer as well. The biopsy may require removal of a tiny tissue piece from the lesion in a laboratory. A numbing agent is needed to avoid painful sensations.
Treatment for the condition, when required, involves addressing the actual irritation source. For instance, if the condition results from rough teeth or irregular denture surfaces, the teeth have to be smooth or dental appliances will need to be fixed. On the contrary, if smoking is the culprit behind the condition, the patient will be advised to quit smoking as early as possible to prevent further damage.
Leukoplakia is typically considered a harmless disease with the lesions clearing in a couple of months or weeks, once the irritation’s source has been removed. However, if the condition doesn’t improve after removing the source of irritation, surgical intervention may be required for removing the lesion. The dentist or an oral surgeon can perform this procedure. It should be noted that hairy leukoplakia needs antiviral drugs for treatment.