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Leukoplakia

Overview

Leukoplakia is a condition in which thickened, white patches are formed on gums, inner portion of the cheeks, bottom of the mouth and sometimes on the tongue. These patches cannot be easily scraped off. Sometimes this disease is precancerous.


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Causes

Leukoplakia is primarily caused by the use of tobacco. Other agents that causes leukoplakia are Candida albicans (a form of yeast which causes oral and genital infections in humans), long term use of alcohol and other chronic irritants ”smokeless tobacco” products. Smoking is also responsible for most cases of leukoplakia.  

 


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Signs & Symptoms

Following symptoms characterize leukoplakia: occurrence of changes on gums, insides of cheeks, the bottom of mouth and sometimes on tongue. White or grayish patches that can't be wiped away, Irregular or flat texture, Thickened or hardened areas. Hairy leukoplakia is symptomised by fuzzy, white patches that resemble folds or ridges on the sides of tongue. 

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Prevention

Leukoplakia can be prevented by avoiding all tobacco products and is one of the best steps for prevention. Avoiding or limiting alcohol consumption prevents this disease. Eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables which are rich in antioxidants such as beta carotene, reduces the risk of leukoplakia by deactivating harmful oxygen molecules before they can damage tissues.


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Treatments
Conservative Modern Medicine

Quitting smoking or alcohol consumption treats the condition in most of the cases. It is also treated by removal of the leukoplakic patches using a scalpel, a laser, or an extremely cold probe that freezes and destroys cancer cells. Derivatives of vitamin A are used to treat severe acne and other skin conditions. Antiviral drugs are used for treatment of hairy leukoplakia.

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