Leukoplakia is a term used to identify a white patch on the surface of a mucous membrane. I will discuss leukoplakia of the mouth, but it can occur in many other locations. The term “leukoplakia” is a sort of catch all, it describes a variety of lesions, including but not limited to: lichen planus, syphilitic mucous patches, white sponge nevus, monoiliasis, lupus erythematosus, chemical burns and other stomatitides.
The causes as well as treatment for leukoplakia are varied. Factors most frequently associated with this condition are tobacco, alcohol, oral sepsis, local irritation, vitamin deficiency, endocrine disturbances and chemical and or electrical exposure.
There is considerable evidence that points to tobacco as cause for leukoplakia. Not just the tobacco but the many other ingredients in cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, dip and chewing tobacco cause the irritation that gives rise to these white lesions.
Three stages of leukoplakia have been described. 1) a non-palpable, faintly translucent, white discoloration. 2) localized or diffuse, slightly elevated patches of irregular outline. 3) thickened, white lesions with fissuring and ulceration. A percentage of these will undergo transformation into epidermoid carcinoma.
Paul L. Caputo, DDS3490 E Lake Rd S Suite A