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Ask Dr. Hegland Your Own Question
Dr. Hegland
Dr. Hegland, Dentist
Category: Dental
Satisfied Customers: 159
Experience:  Dentist at Dental Care on Demand
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I was a chewing tobacco user and I went to an oral surgeon

Customer Question

Hi I was a chewing tobacco user and I went to an oral surgeon yesterday to get a consult on my wisdom teeth. He said I have white patches on my skin and that they may be cancerous. I was just doing some research as I am now totally freaked out
JA: Do you have any gum pain? Do you any discomfort in your jaw?
Customer: No. There is no pain
JA: Please give me a bit more information, so the dentist can help you best.
Customer: I don't have any pain.... just white bumps. He told me to quit immediately - which I did. He wants to see if they disappear on their own and if they don't he would do a biopsy
Submitted: 3 months ago.
Category: Dental
Expert:  Dr. Hegland replied 3 months ago.

Do you have any pictures of the white patches that you could provide for a quick look? And what specific information would you like to know about your condition?

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
I don't have pictures... Its is really hard for me to even see them. I guess my question is rooted in anxiety - is this common with tobacco chewers or is this something that is most likely cancer
Customer: replied 3 months ago.
They are white and a little raised on the skin
Expert:  Dr. Hegland replied 3 months ago.

Well tobacco users in general typically have a non-vascularized oral environment from usage of the product. That means that the oral environment, specifically gingival tissues, have less blood flow to them. So when an irritant or injury happens sometimes healing isn't typical compared to non-tobacco users. Anytime a dentist or surgeon sees white or red lesions that we describe as plaques or erosions we want to make sure that the tissue isn't cancerous or even pre-cancerous. There are a lot a lesions that are considered within normal limits or just variations of normal and aren't cancerous. So your surgeon likely wants to do a quick biopsy just to verify that these are simple tissue changes. Until the tissue has been bioposied and evaluated we only can classify the lesions as leukoplakias. If the lesions are significant its best to act early and have them removed. I understand your anxiety, but can reassure you that many people are sent to the oral surgeon for bioposy of unusual tissue lesions, and very few are cancerous.

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
Thanks Dr. Hegland. I appreciate the response. If they are non-cancerous how long should they take to go away given I am not using? I guess I am just trying to understand when I should book a follow up?
Expert:  Dr. Hegland replied 3 months ago.

The timeline I give patients is 10-14 days, if they don't disappear in that time they should be looked at and very likely biopsied. So 2-3 weeks you should follow up, its always better to be safe than sorry! I can also let you know that oral biopsy is super easy, and it heals fast. So don't be afraid of that procedure, its very routine punch style biopsy and will give you clear mind that all is good!

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
Thank-you very much for the information
Expert:  Dr. Hegland replied 3 months ago.

Yes if you need further assistance in 2-3 weeks, simply ask! Again, white and red lesions are concerning, increasing size or lesions with red borders are red flags to us. Raised white lesions could be a pre-cancerous lesion, so please do not wait to have your follow-up in the next couple weeks. Take care

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
thank you... I won't wait
Expert:  Dr. Hegland replied 3 months ago.

You welcome, Dr. Hegland

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