What is Leukoplakia?
What is Leukoplakia? Leukoplakia is white or gray patches that appear in the mouth. Most of the leukoplakia spots occur on the tongue. However, other parts of the mouth can also be the location of the appearance of these spots, such as the lower mouth, gums, lower lip, the palate in the oral cavity and the inner cheek.
Leukoplakia spots can not be removed by rubbing. These patches also often experience thickening, and with uneven surfaces. The area around the spots is also sometimes reddish.
Although generally not cause pain, leukoplakia spots are still disturbing because it tends to be sensitive to touch, heat sensation, or spicy food. You should consult your doctor if you have an unresolved leukoplakia within 14 days.
Causes and Risk Factors of Leukoplakia
The causes behind leukoplakia are sometimes not known with certainty. But in general, leukoplakia is triggered by irritation of the mucous membranes in the mouth.
There are a number of factors that can trigger leukoplakia appearance. Some of them are:
- Smoking or chewing tobacco.
- Excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages.
- Oral fungal infection or canker sores that do not heal.
- Age. Leukoplakia commonly affects the elderly (50 to 70 years).
- Gender. Men have twice the risk of having leukoplakia than women.
- Vitamin A or B deficiency
- Irritation due to friction with teeth, braces, or dentures.
Leukoplakia can also be triggered by Epstein-Barr virus. This species is known as leukoplakia haired because of the shape of the wavy patches with thin lines like hair. The right and left side of the tongue is the site of the general appearance of the spots.
Hairy leukoplakia attacks people with weakened immune systems, especially those with HIV / AIDS. Therefore, you should immediately see a doctor if you experience the spots.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Leuklopakia
Leukoplakia is generally directly detectable through examination of the inner conditions of your mouth. But to confirm the diagnosis, your doctor may recommend a biopsy (tissue sampling) on the spots in your mouth. This procedure will also help doctors to know the cause of leukoplakia as well as remove the possibility of other diseases.
The cause of leukoplakia will determine the type of treatment you will undergo. Avoiding sources of irritation is one of the main ways of handling this condition. Example:
- Quitting smoking or chewing tobacco and limiting the consumption of alcoholic beverages will be recommended if your leukoplakia is triggered by both of these.
- If your leukoplakia is triggered by a yeast infection, antifungal drugs will be given to combat the fungus.
Your doctor will also advise you to check regularly. This step is useful to ensure no change in the number or condition of leukoplakia patches.
Leukoplakia is generally harmless and can heal by itself in weeks or months. However, if the spots do not disappear, surgical removal procedures for spotting with laser or freezing may also be an option. This method is done to reduce the risk of oral cancer.