Diagnosing leukoplakia 

Your dentist should be able to diagnose leukoplakia by examining the white or grey patch on the inside of your mouth.


Your dentist may take a small sample of cells from the patch using a procedure called a biopsy. The cells will then be sent to a specialised laboratory for closer examination. Alternatively, your dentist may refer you to a specialist who will do the biopsy.

See the Health A-Z pages about Biopsy for more information about the procedure.

Following the biopsy, laboratory tests will be able to determine whether there are any abnormal cells present in the patch. If abnormal cells are detected, it can suggest that you have an increased chance of developing oral cancer and will require regular check-ups.

Exactly what that risk is will depend on how abnormally the cells inside the patch are behaving (the medical term for this level of abnormality is dysplasia).

See the Health A-Z topic about Mouth cancer for more information about the condition.

Page last reviewed: 17/01/2011

Next review due: 17/01/2013