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 prevalence of leukoplakia among adults (15 years or older) has been reported as 3.6% in Sweden. Etiologic and clinical subgroups of leukoplakia showed the following prevalences: using the etiologic subgroups, idiopathic leukoplakia 0.7% and tobacco-associated leukoplakia 2.9%; using the clinical subgroups, homogeneous leukoplakia 3.5% and non-homogeneous leukoplakia 0.3%.