Leukoplakia is marked by the formation of white or gray thickened patches on mucous membranes of cheeks, gums or tongue. The cause for Leukoplakia is still not known. However, it is mainly linked to usage of tobacco and consumption of alcohol. Hairy kind of Leukoplakia is observed during HIV infection which is caused by Epstein-Barr virus. Leukoplakia in long run may lead to oral cancer. Hence, oral examination with the dentist is advisable when the condition is suspected. Dentists send the tissue for biopsy to rule out the possibility of oral cancer. If a biopsy comes back positive for oral cancer, the patch must be removed immediately. This can help prevent its spread.
Usage of smokeless tobacco might cause oral effects including leukoplakia. The extent of smokeless tobacco use in Canada has been reported in several studies. A study based on the results of the 1986 Canadian Labour Force Survey reported that smokeless tobacco use was mainly confined to the male population. It further reported that 0.7% of males aged 15 and over used chewing tobacco, and 0.4% used snuff.