What is Leukoplakia?

Leukoplakia is also known as idiopathic white patch, idiopathic keratosis, and idiopathic leukoplakia and most often refers to a condition where areas of keratosis (a horny growth on the skin) show up as firmly attached white patches on the mucous membranes of the oral cavity and appears on the inside of the cheek, on the tongue, and on the inside the mouth.

The exact cause of Leukoplakia is not know but it could be due to irritation caused by drinking a lot of alcohol, smoking, rough teeth, holding chewing tobacco in the mouth for extended periods of time, and Sanguinaria which is an herbal extract used in some mouthwashes and toothpastes. This disorder tends to be more common in older adults.

What are the Symptoms of Leukoplakia?

Most cases of Leukoplakia cause no symptoms but sometimes there may be discomfort or pain.

Leukoplakia may appear white, grey, or whitish yellow. The most common sites affected are the labia mucosa, the buccal mucosa, and the alveolar mucosa. White or grey patches on the tongue, gums, roof of the mouth, or the inside of the cheeks may have developed over weeks and months and appear thick, slightly raised, and may even take on a rough and hard texture.

How is Leukoplakia Treated?

It’s important to treat dental causes such as rough teeth, fillings, or an irregular denture surface as soon as possible. The individual should also cease smoking, using tobacco, and drinking. If removing the source of the irritation doesn’t work applying medication to the patch may be recommended or even surgery to remove the patch.

Last Reviewed:
October 06, 2016
Last Updated:
September 01, 2017