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 survey of a special population, the outpatients of a Department of Oral Surgery of a Teaching Hospital in Amsterdam, revealed a comparatively low prevalence rate for oral leukoplakia of 14/1000 patients (1.4%). No difference was found in the age distribution compared with similar investigations elsewhere in the world. However, in contrast with previous findings, which show a significant difference between prevalences of leukoplakia for men and women, leukoplakia was equally distributed between both sexes.