Q:

What are the common etiologies for white spots in the mouth?

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Quick Answer

Some causes of white spots on the tongue and in the mouth are leukoplakia, oral thrush and oral lichen planus, according to WebMD. Some leukoplakia patches may be an early symptom of cancer, although most are not, explains Mayo Clinic.

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Full Answer

Oral thrush, or candidiasis, is a yeast infection and is most often seen in the mouths of infants and the elderly, states WebMD. People with immune system problems can also develop this disorder, as can people suffering from diabetes or inhaling steroids to treat lung issues. Doctors may recommend certain medications and eating yogurt with cultures as treatment. Oral lichen planus causes white lines to form in a pattern similar to lace. The cause is unknown, but refraining from tobacco and practicing proper oral hygiene may help prevent it.

Leukoplakia causes thick, white patches on various parts of the mouth and tongue, reports Mayo Clinic. The exact cause of leukoplakia is unknown, but tobacco and long-term alcohol use may be factors in its development. Hairy leukoplakia is a specific type that most often occurs in people suffering from HIV/AIDS, as does oral thrush. Hairy leukoplakia is named for the fuzzy, white patches that form on the sides of the tongue.

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