What is oral leukoplakia?
Oral leukoplakia (leuko=white, plakia=patch) is a white patch in the mouth that cannot be rubbed off and cannot be diagnosed as any other condition. Lichen planus, yeast infections (“thrush”), chronic cheek and tongue chewing injuries, and hairy/coated tongue are some of the specific conditions that appear white in the mouth and are therefore NOT oral leukoplakia. When all such known conditions have been ruled out, a patient is diagnosed with oral leukoplakia. While the long-term history of these lesions is impossible to predict, it is known that true leukoplakias are considered “potentially malignant,” meaning that they have the potential, over time, to develop into oral cancer.
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