What is Erythroplakia?

What is Erythroplakia?
Author: Espire Dental Posted: July 6th, 2022 Category:

Did you notice an unusual patch in your mouth? Get it checked immediately by your dentist.

Perhaps you recently looked carefully inside your mouth and noticed a red-colored lesion. Known as erythroplakia, the lesion is typically flat and has a velvety texture. White spots may also appear. 

Erythroplakia commonly develops on the inside of the cheek, under the tongue, or on the soft palate at the back of the mouth. If you see this unusual lesion, immediately consult your doctor for a diagnosis and treatment.

What causes erythroplakia?

Chewing tobacco and smoking cigarettes lead to erythroplakia in most cases. Excessive alcohol consumption is another risk factor. Constant gums and mouth tissue irritation caused by ill-fitting dentures may also cause the lesion.

Erythroplakia is similar to leukoplakia, a condition in which white or gray lesions grow in the mouth or throat. The lesions look like calluses in that they’re thick blotches. Like erythroplakia, leukoplakia develops due to smoking, tobacco chewing, or long-term inflammation of the mouth tissue.

Note that erythroplakia is not cancer. However, in rare instances, erythroplakia may contain precancerous cells. To detect such abnormal cells, your dentist will take a biopsy. The risk of cancer increases if the lesion bleeds. Even if the lesion is determined to be precancerous, there is only a slight chance of it developing into cancer. But even this slim possibility emphasizes the importance of getting the lesion diagnosed and treated.

Treating erythroplakia

If no abnormal cells are detected, your dentist may recommend close monitoring at home with frequent checkup appointments. A lesion near the throat may interfere with your speaking voice, and treatment may be necessary. If precancerous cells are found, your dentist will initiate treatment to remove the lesion.

Removing erythroplakia can be accomplished in three ways: 

  • Surgical removal with a scalpel 
  • A laser that heats the lesion away 
  • Cryosurgery, which freezes the lesion before its removal

Your dentist will suggest the best option. After removal, your dentist will often monitor you during your appointments to ensure it doesn’t return.

You should also make lifestyle changes to prevent erythroplakia from developing or recurring after removal. That means stopping harmful behaviors such as smoking and tobacco chewing.

Erythroplakia can be hard to detect on your own. It’s not often you carefully examine the inside of your mouth. However, your dentist does it every time you go for your regular exam. Keeping up with dental checkups can find, diagnose, and treat erythroplakia and other oral health issues.

Time to visit your dentist

Schedule an appointment at Espire’s Mission Valley location today! Our highly trained dentists can thoroughly examine your mouth for abnormalities such as erythroplakia and treat it immediately. Don’t live near our Mission Valley, California office? Find one of our other locations near you.

Mission Valley, CA
8989 Rio San Diego Drive
Suite 170
San Diego, CA 92108