Lichen planus is a recurrent inflammatory condition. Approximately 1.9% of the world population suffers from the disease, with a higher prevalence in women between 30 and 60 years of age.
What is lichen planus?
Lichen planus is a recurrent chronic inflammatory disease.Once it manifests, it will reappear throughout the patient’s life. It can affect the skin, genitals, and oral mucosa. The cause is unknown, although the condition is known to be autoimmune in nature.
Known as oral lichen planus, it affects the mucous membranes inside the mouth, tongue, and lips. Oral lichen planus is not spread from person to person; it occurs when the immune system attacks cells in the mucous membranes for unknown reasons.
Oral lichen planus has two clinical variants:
• Reticular oral lichen planus: white papules and plaque are characteristics along with mucosal atrophy and red patches . Symptoms usually appear on the mucosa of the mouth, generally affecting the inside of the cheek, tongue, and gums. It does not usually cause discomfort.
• Erosive oral lichen planus: the white patches of reticular lichen planus are accompanied by sprouting ulcers that cause discomfort and pain. Sometimes, they are located only in the gums and can cause irritation and bleeding.
Signs and symptoms of oral lichen planus
Generally, lichen planus is asymptomatic. In most cases, patients do not even notice the stretch marks or white plaques. In certain cases, however, they feel a different texture (painless) on the affected mucosa.
In general, the condition manifests as follows:
• Painful, raised red patches of tissue
• Open flames
• Raised, reticulated white spots
• Pain or burning sensation
• Sensitivity to eating spicy, hot, or acidic foods
• Bleeding and irritation during tooth brushing
• Thickened and painful spots on the tongue
• Discomfort swallowing, chewing and even speaking
Diagnosis and treatment
Due to its chronic nature, there is no specific cure for lichen planus. The treatment is based on healing the lesions and reducing symptoms.
The treatments most often used:
• Topical anesthetics to temporarily relieve painful areas.
• Corticosteroids to reduce inflammation. These drugs are usually administered topically (as a mouthwash, ointment, or even a gel), orally (as pills), or by injection directly into the oral lesion.
• Medications to suppress or modify the immune response are applied directly to severe injuries to decrease pain.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified oral lichen planus as a potentially malignant oral disorder, considering it a precursor to oral cancer. For this reason, it is necessary to carry out periodic reviews with a specialist in oral pathology, who will carry out an adequate follow-up.
In addition to drug treatment, it is important to take into account some self-care recommendations that help improve the symptoms of oral lichen planus. they can even prevent recurrent episodes with severe symptoms:
• Maintain proper oral hygiene, using a brush with fine bristles and a soft toothpaste
• Eliminate overly spicy, salty, or acidic foods from the diet that can worsen inflammation and replace it with a bland diet.
• Avoid the consumption of alcohol and tobacco.
• Learn to control stress or avoid situations that trigger it as this worsens the symptoms of the disease.
• Visit your dentist regularly. Ideally at least twice a year for check-ups and cleanings.
At Channel Islands Family Dental, we provide specialized and qualified care. Our team of dentists in Ventura, Oxnard, Port Hueneme, Santa Paula and Newbury Park will be happy to attend and treat any oral problem you may have.
Remember that adequate and timely treatment is essential to solving any problem, as is the case with oral lichen planus. For this reason, don’t waste time and make an appointment with us.