In leukoplakia, dense white-hued patches form in your mouth. The patches may appear on your cheeks, gums, and tongue. It is challenging to scrape off these white patches. The causes of its formation are not confirmed. However, according to the leading experts, tobacco consumption in any form may lead to white patch's development.
Leukoplakia is non-cancerous; however, some patches may be a sign of early cancer stages. In addition, cancer can develop on the bottom of your mouth next to the leukoplakia site. Therefore it is suggested to visit a medical care professional if you see unusual changes in your mouth.
There are two different kinds of leukoplakia. These are:
It is a thin white patch inside your mouth with ridged edges.
It is a white or white-red patch with an irregular surface. The surface could be flat or elevated. Sometimes, the patches appear nodular or ulcerated. It can elevate to oral cancer if left untreated.
Another subtype of leukoplakia includes Proliferative Verrucous Leukoplakia (PVL), an aggressive form that occurs due to a herpes virus. PVL takes time to spread to multiple locations inside your mouth; hence it is diagnosed later. Moreover, it has a high possibility to reoccur. If this condition takes time to get diagnosed, you may develop early cancer symptoms.
Moreover, there is another leukoplakia subtype known as oral hairy leukoplakia. It significantly affects people with autoimmune disorders and HIV/AIDS. It appears as a white fuzzy patch, mainly on the tongue. However, it can be found on other spots in your mouth. It does not develop into cancer, but you must get checked for HIV/AIDS after getting diagnosed with oral hairy leukoplakia.
Leukoplakia develops on your gums, beneath your tongue, cheeks, and mouth's bottom part. It does not cause swelling or pain and hence can go unnoticed for some time. Its appearance may look like this:
- White or greyish patch that is hard to wipe off
- Irregular texture
- Thick and hard ends
- Red, elevated lesions that may show precancerous symptoms
Hairy leukoplakia resembles its name and causes fuzzy patches on the tongue sides. It looks like folds or ridges and is usually mistaken for oral thrush. Hairy leukoplakia does not cause any impact on your health, but it may signify underlying severe conditions. It is beneficial to see a dentist or primary healthcare professional if you witness any of the following:
- White plaques that do not go away even after two weeks
- White, red, or dark spots in the insides of your mouth
- Changes in the mouth tissues
- Ear pain caused while swallowing the food
- Inability to open jaw widely
These conditions may mark the beginning of early cancer stages. Therefore, it is essential to get your oral health checked by a specialist. Timely actions can contain leukoplakia spread.
The actual causes of leukoplakia are unknown; however, researchers believe that consistent tobacco consumption could be the leading cause. Tobacco may cause chronic irritation inside your mouth. When you chew tobacco and hold it against your cheek, you may aggravate leukoplakia's development.
Other causes that may develop leukoplakia are:
- Ill-fitted dentures
- Uncontrolled alcohol use
- Sharp and deformed teeth that rub against your tongue and cheeks
A discussion with your dentist may give you an idea about the leukoplakia causes in your case.
The leading cause of hairy leukoplakia is getting infected with the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). The virus rests inside your body throughout your lifetime. Thus it is challenging to get rid of this virus. The virus usually does not show its presence. But, if you have a weak immunity due to HIV/AIDS, the virus may reactivate itself. Moreover, smokeless tobacco puts you at a high risk of getting leukoplakia and oral cancer. If you have a habit of consuming tobacco and alcohol, you have a better chance of getting leukoplakia.
Hairy leukoplakia mainly affects people with HIV/AIDS. However, this condition can be controlled by using antiretroviral drugs. These drugs have significantly reduced the number of hairy leukoplakia cases in HIV patients. Therefore, the condition is rarely evident in a few people and usually signifies the first signs of HIV infection.
Leukoplakia shows early signs of oral cancer. The cancerous cells may develop near leukoplakia patches. Even if your doctor or dentist removes the patches, you retain the chances of getting oral cancer. However, leukoplakia does not cause any damage to the tissues inside your mouth.
It may indicate signs of HIV/AIDS. If you witness the symptoms of hairy leukoplakia, it is best to consult a medical care professional to treat your condition. A weak immune system may welcome hairy leukoplakia. You can try home remedies to strengthen your immunity. Getting accurate therapy at the appropriate time may help in preventing hairy leukoplakia's spread.
You can prevent leukoplakia by saying no to alcohol and tobacco. You may call your healthcare provider to discuss the ways of quitting alcohol and drug abuse. In addition, you can join focus groups and wellness centres to stop excess consumption. However, if you continue using tobacco and alcohol, make it a habit to visit your dentist frequently. Frequent oral checkups can help in diagnosing the early cancer stages.
Oral cancer takes time to develop and does not show any changes in your body until it becomes life-threatening.
Leukoplakia diagnosis is crucial to paving a path for its treatment. Most often, the diagnosis starts with:
- Examining the insides of your mouth and looking for the patches.
- Cleaning and wiping off the white patches.
- Taking time to study and discuss your medical history and risk factors.
- Ruling out the possibility of other causes.
Leukoplakia does not show any symptoms, so it is challenging to feel any pain or discomfort inside your mouth. So instead, a healthcare professional diagnoses the disease during a routine examination.
Other causes may develop white patches inside your mouth. Before the diagnosis of leukoplakia, your doctor rules out the possibility of those causes. Some other factors that may create white patches include fungal infection, repeated biting of the cheeks, friction caused by dentures etc. If these reasons do not form the white patches, your doctor may take a tissue sample from your mouth for further investigation.
If you have leukoplakia, your doctor studies the early signs of cancer. It is done through two methods that include:
An oral brush biopsy is a non-invasive method to diagnose early cancer signs. However, it does not provide a definite diagnosis. Under this method, your doctor removes a small cell from the lesion using a spinning brush.
Under excisional biopsy, your doctor takes a part of the leukoplakia patch's tissue. Moreover, they may remove the entire patch if it is small and easily removable. It provides a detailed and definitive diagnosis.
After diagnosing the patch, if it tests positive for cancer, you need further treatment. However, if the entire patch is removed through excisional biopsy, you do not need to undergo advanced treatment. If the patch is comprehensive, you may be referred to an oral surgeon or ENT (Ear, nose, and throat) specialist for the treatment.
If the diagnosis is not precise, the white patches inside your mouth may be confirmed as leukoplakia. It may develop into cancer.
Homeopathy believes in curing a patient from within. It focuses on a person and works on their pathological condition. In addition, the medicines are prepared after referring to the medical history, psychological well-being, family history, symptoms, underlying pathology, and possible causative factors of a person.
Homeopathy helps in enhancing the quality of life. The medicines work on more than a symptom of a disease. The focus is on the causes of the disease. A homeopathic doctor may think about what brought their patient to this condition. The medicines try to correct the disease predisposition.
Moreover, it focuses on treating a person and bringing back their original health condition. Homeopathy is a sovereign remedy in treating various physical and mental illnesses. As the treatment is individualised, you do not have to worry about its effectiveness. Homeopathy is a great way to develop your emotional, mental, and physical well-being.