This information is provided by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD).
Leukoplakia is a condition in which thickened, white patches form on the tongue, gums, inside of the cheek, or sometimes on the outer female genitals. Although the sores can vary in appearance, they are usually white or gray; thick; and slightly raised with a hard surface. The condition is thought to be caused by irritation, but the cause is not always known. Tobacco is considered to be the main cause of its development in the mouth. Most patches are benign, but a small percentage show early signs of cancer. Removing the source of irritation may cause the condition to go away, but surgery to remove the sore(s) may be necessary in some cases.
For more information, visit GARD.