Here's Why You Have White Patches in Your Mouth

Do you have white, thickened patches of skin on the inside your mouth that cannot be scraped away? If so, then you may be dealing with a condition sometimes seen in general dentistry called leukoplakia. Continue reading to learn about this disease and what it can mean for your health.

Symptoms

Most cases of leukoplakia form under the tongue, on the gums, on the inside of the cheek, and occasionally on the tongue. The patches are rarely painful and can often go unnoticed. Leukoplakia patches may have thickened or hardened and have a flat or irregular texture. These areas will appear gray or white and may be accompanied by raised, red lesions. Also, one type of leukoplakia, called hairy leukoplakia, is often mistaken for oral thrush and is characterized by fuzzy, white patches. This form of leukoplakia occurs more often in individuals with weakened immune systems.

Causes

The causes of leukoplakia are not understood. However, causing chronic irritation to the mouth, for example by chewing or smoking tobacco, seems to be the cause of most leukoplakia cases. Some other sources of irritation include long-term alcohol use, poor-fitting dentures, and sharp tooth surfaces that rub against the tongue or inside of the mouth.

Diagnosis

The majority of leukoplakia patches are benign, meaning that they are non-cancerous. However, it’s possible for these patches to exhibit signs of cancer, and cancer may occur next to an area of leukoplakia. For these reasons, you should see a dentist if you notice any unusual and persistent changes in your mouth, whether they resemble leukoplakia or not. If you are diagnosed with leukoplakia, then your dentist may biopsy the area to test for early signs of cancer.

My Dentist has general dentistry offices at Eagle Falls Dentistry on Stratford Drive and Associated Dental Care on Bloomingdale Road. If you would like to schedule an oral cancer screening with one of our dentists serving Bloomingdale, IL, then please call us today at (630) 894-5992.

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