Oral Lichen Planus (OLP) is a benign inflammatory condition that affects the mucous membranes in your mouth. Overall, oral lichen planus is seen in 2% of the population, with women over the age of 50 most commonly affected. The cause of OLP is not completely understood. It is thought that it is an auto-immune disorder, but more research is needed. Most cases are “idopathic”… meaning that it develops for no apparent reason. OLP is not infectious and cannot be spread from person to person.
OLP most commonly affects the inner cheeks, tongue and gum tissue and can present in three distinct forms:
1. Reticular: this is the most common form that looks like white lacy lines on the inner cheeks or top of the tongue. White lesions can cause discomfort and make the mouth feel rough, but many times there are no symptoms at all.
2. Erosive: This form appears on the gum tissue. There are raw, reddened areas that are painful and sore. Individuals with this form find it uncomfortable to eat acidic, spicy or crunchy foods.
3. Ulcerative: This is the most severe form in which ulcers form in the mouth that look like canker sores.
Other symptoms may include a burning sensation in the mouth, metallic taste, dry mouth, or bleeding and irritation when brushing.
OLP is a chronic ongoing condition that can be controlled but not eliminated. It tends to come and go, flaring up when the body is stressed, either physically or emotionally. Many times, treatment is needed but if symptoms are severe, treatment with a topical steroid is needed.
If you think you have OLP, come in for an exam. A diagnosis can be made by clinical signs in the mouth and by your symptoms. Occasionally, a biopsy will be required to confirm the diagnosis. All patients with OLP need to have regular exams so that we can monitor the condition for any changes and to help you manage the symptoms.
This article was written by Helper