You're likely to start by seeing your dentist or a general practitioner. However, you may also be referred to an oral surgeon or an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist for diagnosis and treatment.
What you can do
To get ready for your appointment, make a list of:
- Your symptoms, even if they seem unrelated to your condition
- Key medical and dental information, such as prior instances of symptoms and treatment, if any
- All medications, vitamins and other supplements that you regularly take
- Questions to ask your dentist, in order from most important to least important
For leukoplakia, basic questions to ask your dentist include:
- What is likely causing my condition?
- Are there other possible causes for my condition?
- Do I need special tests?
- Is my condition likely temporary or long term (chronic)?
- What treatments are available? Which do you recommend?
- What are the alternatives to the primary approach you're suggesting?
- Are there any restrictions I need to follow?
- Do you have any printed materials that I can take home with me? What websites do you recommend?
Don't hesitate to ask other questions during your appointment, especially if there's something you don't understand.
What to expect from your dentist
Your dentist is likely to ask you a number of questions, including:
- When did you first notice these changes?
- Do you have any pain or bleeding from the problem area?
- Are you a smoker?
- Do you use chewing tobacco?
- How much alcohol do you drink?
- Do you have any difficulty swallowing?
- Have you noticed any lumps or bumps in your neck?
- Do you have any pain?
- Have you developed any areas of numbness on your tongue or lip?
What you can do in the meantime
Quitting tobacco use of any kind may reduce or eliminate your leukoplakia.
Jul. 26, 2013
- Goldstein BG, et al. Oral lesions. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed May 1, 2013.
- Detecting oral cancer: A guide for health care professionals. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. http://www.nidcr.nih.gov/OralHealth/Topics/OralCancer/DetectingOralCancer.htm. Accessed May 1, 2013.
- Flint PW, et al. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-05283-2..X0001-8--TOP&isbn=978-0-323-05283-2&uniqId=230100505-57. Accessed May 2, 2013.
- Habif TP. Clinical Dermatology: A Color Guide to Diagnosis and Therapy. 5th ed. Edinburgh, U.K.; New York, N.Y.: Mosby Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-7234-3541-9..X0001-6--TOP&isbn=978-0-7234-3541-9&uniqId=230100505-57. Accessed May 2, 2013.
- Reamy BV, et al. Common tongue conditions in primary care. American Family Physician. 2010;81:627.
- Goldsmith LA, et al., eds. Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine. 8th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=740. Accessed May 6, 2013.
- Papadakis MA, et al. Quick Medical Diagnosis & Treatment. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2013. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=513. Accessed May 6, 2013.
- Sullivan JL. Clinical manifestations and treatment of Epstein-Barr virus infection. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed May 7, 2013.
- Usatine RP, et al. The Color Atlas of Family Medicine. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2009. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=678. Accessed May 7, 2013.
- Sheridan PJ (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. May 23, 2013.
- Salinas TJ (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. May 26, 2013.