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.
A study of Finnish military recruits found that 11% of the 441 recruits used oral snuff and 44% of these users had lesions described as grayish, white, wrinkled and elevated. Women were affected more often than men. The prevalence of lesions decreased with age and differed slightly according to region of living and place of residence.
In another study with a representative sample of 8000 persons aged 30 and over living in Finland, 3875 users of removable dentures were examined. The condition of the oral mucosa was recorded during clinical examinations. The prevalence of oral mucosal lesions associated with removable dentures was analyzed according to age, sex, place of residence, geographical region of living, and type and location of prosthesis. Lesions were found in about 50% of the denture wearers. Women were affected more often than men. The prevalence of lesions decreased with age and differed slightly according to region of living and place of residence.