Oral Leukoplakia: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Oral leukoplakia is a white patch on the inside of the mouth or on the tongue. Sometimes it turns into cancer.

Leukoplakia is most common in people over 60. You are more likely to get it if you drink too much alcohol or if you smoke, dip, or chew tobacco. Your risk is also higher if your mouth gets irritated or injured, such as from a rough tooth or ill-fitting dentures.. People who don't have enough nutrients in their diet, such as vitamin A or B, are also at risk.

Your doctor may remove a small piece of the white patch to check for cancer. This is called a mouth biopsy. He or she will also tell you to avoid all types of tobacco and alcohol.

You may get medicine to help get rid of the white patches. If the patches don't go away, your doctor may do surgery to remove them.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Do not smoke, chew, or dip tobacco. Using tobacco can cause leukoplakia. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good.
  • Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. This may lower your risk of cancer.
  • Rinse your mouth with a mixture of a half-teaspoon of baking soda in 1 cup of warm water.
  • Floss your teeth every day. Brush your teeth at least two times a day. Clean your tongue when you brush your teeth.
  • If you have pain, take an over-the-counter pain medicine, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve). Read and follow all instructions on the label. Do not take two or more pain medicines at the same time unless the doctor told you to. Many pain medicines have acetaminophen, which is Tylenol. Too much acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be harmful.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • The white patches in your mouth bleed.
  • The white patches in your mouth do not go away.
  • You get new white patches in your mouth.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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Current as of: August 9, 2016