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Brushing and flossing your teeth daily are optimal ways to maintain oral health, but problems may still develop such as sores in the mouth. One type of sore, leukoplakia, has been associated with oral cancer. Do you have leukoplakia?

Leukoplakia

Leukoplakia sores appear as thick, white or gray patches on your gums, tongue, or the inside of your cheeks. These patches can be painful and cannot be scraped off. It is rare for these patches to be cancerous, but they have been associated with oral cancer (which often develops near leukoplakia sores).

Preventing Leukoplakia

Leukoplakia patches grow when the tissue of the mouth is irritated. Since tobacco use is the most common cause of leukoplakia, quitting it is the best way to prevent leukoplakia. Ill-fitting dentures can also irritate oral tissue, so speak with your dentist about correcting their fit.

Treating Leukoplakia

Quitting tobacco use or fixing the fit of dentures also works as the best way to treat leukoplakia. However, if doing so does not prove successful or your dentist feels your leukoplakia patches look malignant, a biopsy may be necessary to remove them from your mouth. This is performed with a scalpel, laser, or cryoprobe.