Oral Lichen Planus

What is Oral Lichen Planus?

Oral lichen planus is a chronic inflammatory condition that affects the lining of the mouth. There is no cure, so the treatment focuses on helping severe lesions heal and reducing pain and discomfort. Lesions may appear most commonly on the inside of the cheek, on the gums, tongue, inner tissues of the lips and the palate.

Who gets Oral Lichen Planus?

People most vulnerable to contract oral lichen planus are those with an immune disorder, for instance Type 1 Diabetes, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Sjögrens and Behçet’s Disease. It is thought to affect 1 to 2% of the population and is more likely to develop in women over 40 years old.

Does Oral Lichen Planus go away?

In most cases oral lichen planus never goes away. Sufferers will usually continue to have white patches on the lining of the mouth which are usually pain free.

What is the cause of Oral Lichen Planus?

It is not known what causes oral lichen planus, although it is believed to be triggered by certain things such as medication, mouth injury, infection or allergy-causing agents such as dental materials. However this has yet to be fully established.

A particular white blood cell called T lymphocytes, which plays a central role in cell-mediated immunity, appear to be activated in oral lichen planus. This could simply indicate an immune disorder however, this still doesn’t seem to determine the exact cause.

Cautionary measures may help, for instance not smoking or consuming large quantities of alcohol, avoiding spicy foods and eating plenty of fruit and vegetables. Maintaining a consistent oral care regime and visiting a dentist regularly will contribute to prolonging symptom free periods.

Is Oral Lichen Planus contagious?

Oral lichen planus is not contagious and cannot be passed from one person to another.

What are the symptoms of Oral Lichen Planus?

Oral lichen planus presents itself in a few ways; lacy white raised patches which may not be painful but feel rough on the inside of the mouth as well as open sores and tender patches on the cheek lining which become red and inflamed. The mucous membrane is the common location for these symptoms, however it can also affect the tongue, gum and inner tissue of the lips, hard palate and sometimes the throat.

When a flare up occurs many people can find speaking, chewing and swallowing uncomfortable. It can often make gums bleed when tooth brushing and can cause inflammation (gingivitis) along with a painful burning sensation.

In severe cases people will be in significant pain and understandably prone to stress, anxiety and depression. Due to this oral discomfort people may lose weight and suffer nutritional deficiencies. Lastly, some people may develop secondary oral yeast or fungal infections.

How do you treat Oral Lichen Planus?

The white lacy patches need to be monitored for change in appearance and invariably does not require treatment. However, a flare up of painful lesions will usually involve applying a corticosteroid cream or immune-suppressants to the affected area.

Maintaining good oral hygiene is essential and given the mouth can feel sore and prone to bleeding the best products to consider is toothpaste with low flavouring and one that is SLS free (sodium lauryl sulfate), a soft bristled brush and an anti-inflammatory mouthrinse i.e. Gengigel Mouthrinse. The rinse provides immediate relief of a burning sensation and coats the oral mucosa to protect the affected area.

To reduce further trauma to the oral cavity it could be necessary to eliminate other exacerbating factors like sharp teeth, broken restorations or prostheses. Scaling teeth to remove calculus (tartar) deposits and reducing sharp edges will help. It may be prudent to review any prescribed medication and although no treatment of oral lichen planus is curative, managing the pain and inflammation is key to restoring quality of life.

Reducing stress, anxiety, eliminating alcohol consumption and tobacco, alongside a good nutritional diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables will hugely contribute to lessening symptoms.

To relieve Oral Lichen Planus

Using the Gengigel range should prolong the symptom free interval. For oral lichen planus the most appropriate Gengigel products to use are the Gengigel Mouthrinse for soothing the whole oral cavity applied throughout the day as well as after tooth brushing. The Gengigel Spray is useful for people on the go as it is portable, discreet and quick to apply. It can be used as frequently as required and will control oral discomfort and inflammation. Gengigel First Aid is more concentrated and will control soreness instantly without risk of further trauma and manage symptomatic pain for a longer period.