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.
The epidemiology of oral mucosal lesions in the adult population of Israel is mostly unknown. In a study with 3735 consecutive participants aged 20-75 years with male/female ratio of 1841/1894, a total of 1106 lesions were found in 963 subjects (25.8 %). The prevalence of potentially malignant Leukoplakia was observed to be 1.82%. The male prevalence was 2.44% and female was 1.21%. The prevalence of leukoplakia in relation to smoking habits was observed as never smoked (0.93%), light smokers (1.15%), moderate smokers (3.85%) and heavy smokers (4.72%). No association was found between Leukoplakia and alcohol consumption.