Though it may occur in any part of the mouth, it generally affects the tongue, gums, and inner cheek. Physicians will usually biopsy oral leukoplakia lesions as 20-40% of cases are precancerous or cancerous at the time of biopsy and another 8-15% become cancerous over time. The exact cause of oral leukoplakia is not known. Factors that may increase the risk of developing oral leukoplakia include smoking, alcohol use, vitamin deficiencies, malocclusion, and a weakened immune system.Treatment depends on the biopsy results and the size, appearance, and location of the oral leukoplakia. Removal or ablation of the lesion by surgery, laser, or cryotherapy (use of low temperature) may be recommended.Oral leukoplakia is a diagnosis of exclusion. It describes a white plaque that does not rub off and cannot be characterized as any other condition.
Last updated: 6/12/2015
- Harris, Christopher. Oral Leukoplakia. Medscape. March 31, 2015; http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/853864-clinical#a0218. Accessed 6/12/2015.
- Oral Leukoplakia. Brigham and Women’s Hospital Division of Oral Medicine and Dentistry. http://www.brighamandwomens.org/departments_and_services/surgery/services/oralmedicine/imported%20files/leukoplakia.pdf. Accessed 6/12/2015.