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Mouth Diseases

White patch

02/09/2009

Question:

a dentist noticed a white patch on my tongue and refered me to oral surgery, what could this be.

Answer:

There are many different things that can cause a white patch (sometimes called a leukoplakia) on the tongue. I would hope that your dentist told you some of them.

One of the most important things to consider is a precancerous lesion or an early form of oral cancer. In some cases, the only way to determine this is by having the oral surgeon obtain a small sample (biopsy) of this patch so that it can be examined and diagnosed under the microscope.

If the patch persists and it cannot be readily explained or diagnosed as a specific condition, then biopsy would be warranted so that you can find out exactly what this "leukoplakia" represents and what additional treatment you may need, if any. Good luck!

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Response by:

John R Kalmar, DMD, PhD John R Kalmar, DMD, PhD
Clinical Professor of Pathology
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University