ABC Medical Center > Leukoplakia

What is Leukoplakia?

21:55 - 4 May , 2021


It is a condition that affects the oral mucosa through the appearance of whitish spots that usually form on the inside of the cheeks, gums, and under the tongue.

The origin of leukoplakia has not yet been established, it is considered that smoked or chewed tobacco may be the main cause since it causes continuous irritation in the buccal mucosa.

There are also other risk factors such as having broken or irregular teeth, bridges, or dentures that move and do not fit properly, in addition to excessive alcohol consumption.

There is also hairy leukoplakia, caused by conditions such as HIV/AIDS that weaken the immune system. Here the lesions appear around the tongue and their appearance is confused with the white plaques caused by oral candidiasis.

Signs and symptoms Leukoplakia

The spots or patches have the following characteristics:

  • Whitish or gray spots on the buccal mucosa.
  • Flat or rough texture.
  • Raised parts that become hard.
  • They cause pain and burning when spicy or highly acid foods are eaten.
  • When they appear combined with reddish bumps, they are usually more significant signs of possible cancer.

You must see your doctor or dentist if you experience:

  • Ear pain when swallowing.
  • Progressive decrease in the ability to open the oral cavity.
  • Recurrent alterations in the buccal mucosa tissue.
  • Sores that do not go away on their own in less than 15 days.

Normally, this condition does not cause major complications or irreversibly damage the buccal mucosa, but it is a risk factor for developing oral cancer since some of these lesions can become malignant and even the probability of cancer can continue after removal.

The faster treatment is received, the easier it is to remove the patches and to have better control of their evolution, preventing complications or anticipating possible oncological referrals.

How to prevent it:

  • Stop smoking or chewing tobacco.
  • Avoid exceeding your alcoholic intake.
  • Periodically visit your dentist for a check-up.

Diagnosis and treatment Leukoplakia

Once your doctor analyzes your symptoms and clinical history, they will perform an exhaustive review of the oral lesions and will ask you about your habits that may be risk factors.

Likewise, they may request some other test to rule out any condition potentially causing leukoplakia. If the diagnosis is confirmed, you’ll most likely have cancer screening tests, such as excisional or oral brush biopsy.

The treatment plan for leukoplakia will be established based on the number and size of the lesions, but usually, the patches are removed with a cryoprobe, laser, or scalpel. In addition, you must eradicate the consumption of alcohol and tobacco.

If you have hairy leukoplakia due to a weakened immune system caused by a viral illness, you may also be prescribed antiviral medications.

At ABC Medical Center’s Internal Medicine Department, we offer health care services with the highest quality and safety, from the prevention, diagnosis, timely treatment, and monitoring of infectious, respiratory, endocrinological, dermatological, rheumatic, nephrological, gastrointestinal, and hematological pathologies of both chronic-degenerative diseases and acute conditions, through a comprehensive and multidisciplinary model.


  • Batista CZ, González AV, García BMC, et al. Evaluación clínico-epidemiológica de trastornos bucales potencialmente malignos en adultos de Montalvo en Ambato, Ecuador. Rev Cubana Estomatol. 2019;56(4):1-15.
  • Castelnaux MM, Montoya SI, Serguera BY, et al. Caracterización clínica y epidemiológica de pacientes con leucoplasia bucal. MediSan. 2020;24(01):4-15.
  • Batista VM, González RRM, Batista BMM, et al. Lesiones bucales diagnosticadas por Programa de Detección del Cáncer Bucal. Facultad de Estomatología. La Habana. 2015-2016. Revista de Ciencias Médicas de la Habana. 2020;27(1):26-35.
  • Hernández-Pérez F, Rivera-Macías S. Leucoplasia homogénea de cavidad bucal. Oral. 2019;20(63):1723-1726.

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