The condition is most common among middle-aged women, but anyone can be affected.
Known triggers include:
The condition can be exacerbated by tobacco, alcohol, poor dental work, poorly-fitting dentures, biting the kips or cheeks, dental plaque build-up, or stress.
Oral lichen planus may appear as white, raised, 'lacy' patches, or red, swollen, tender tissues, or as open sores. These may be accompanied by burning, pain or other discomfort. Bleeding and irritation may occur with tooth brushing.
The most common location is inside the cheeks, but it can also affect the gums, tongue, inner lips, throat and esophagus.
Treatments that suppress the immune system may improve the condition, but in general oral lichen planus is a chronic condition that is difficult to manage.
Patients with no discomfort and only white, lacy lesions may not require treatment.
If oral lichen planus is suspected as being triggered by a pharmaceutical drug, hepatitis C, allergens or stress, then the trigger(s) should be addressed.
Oral lichen planus is usually an ongoing (chronic) condition.
About half of those who get lichen planus also develop mouth sores.
A metallic taste or a reduction in taste sensation may be present if the tongue is affected.
If the tongue is affected, this may result in a blunted taste sensation.
Good oral hygiene keeps the mouth clean, reduces inflammation and helps prevent infection.
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