If your mouth has white patches with redness and swelling, you might have a case of oral lichen planus, an inflammatory condition affecting membranes within your mouth.
Oral lichen planus affects around two percent of the population and is found most frequently among women over the age of fifty. However, to get an official diagnosis, then we recommend you check in with a qualified health professional as we’ll need to run a biopsy to make sure the cause isn’t another oral disease. For more info regarding this, just visit on this website.
What’s the cause?
Currently, dentists are unsure on the causes of lichen planus – some consider it genetic while other research implies that the cause may be with your immune system. The findings suggest that your immune cells which usually attack bacteria and viruses will instead attack the lining of your mouth, thus categorising oral lichen planus as an autoimmune disorder.
What does it look like?
Before oral lichen planus fully develops, people will usually experience the early symptoms of feeling a metallic or burning sensation in your mouth. The disease will then begin to develop and cause white patches which way appear on your gums, tongue, inner tissue of lips, palate, or most commonly, the inside of your cheeks.
The lesions are characterised as numerous tiny dots that connect to create a lace-like pattern. Surrounding this, there is redness and swelling; for some severe cases there might also be blistering or peeling.
What treatment is necessary?
Unfortunately, oral lichen planus is considered a chronic disease meaning it can be controlled but not completely eradicated. Patients are recommended to remove triggers that may make the lichen planus worse, such as spicy or citrus foods and harsh toothbrushes. For painful ulcers, we can prescribe a topical corticosteroid or system steroid for comfort.
Is it contagious?
Oral lichen planus isn’t a contagious disease. However, there is a slight controversy surrounding the debate on whether the lichen planus might lead to oral cancer. While nothing has been proven, there are several reported cases of this happening.