Ask a Dentist

May 18, 2023

Q: What Is Oral Lichen Planus?

The term lichen planus printed above a bar code. Various medical tools.

The term lichen planus is defined as “small flat bumps on the skin.” Lichen planus can develop on the skin, vaginal mucosa, nails and scalp. When the condition appears in your mouth, it’s called oral lichen planus. It’s a non-infectious, inflammatory condition that affects the mucous membranes inside your mouth. 


White, lacy patches on the tongue and the insides of the cheeks are typical symptoms of oral lichen planus. Sometimes the lesions may even appear as red, swollen, tender patches of tissues or open sores. You can find them on the:

  • Inside of the cheeks, the most common location
  • Gums
  • Tongue
  • Inner tissues of the lips
  • Palate

The white patches are typically a visual symptom and aren't painful or itchy. However, the red patches can be accompanied by some pain and discomfort, including:

  • Burning sensation or pain
  • Sensitivity to hot, acidic or spicy foods
  • Bleeding and irritation with tooth brushing
  • Inflammation of the gums (gingivitis)
  • Painful, thickened patches on the tongue
  • Discomfort when speaking, chewing or swallowing


An oral surgeon, dentist or dermatologist can perform a visual and physical examination to make a diagnosis. This condition isn’t curable, but it can go away by itself. If the issue is severe, these treatments are recommended to relieve discomfort and help heal the sores:

  • Corticosteroids found in mouthwashes, gels, ointments or powders, pills or injections
  • Immune response medications are applied directly to the affected area, or a systemic medication is taken internally
  • Light therapy
  • Aloe vera

Dental Image Therapy Centres specializes in helping patients feel and look better again. We carry a number of oral products that can treat and manage your oral symptoms. Please ask and we would be happy to help you find the product that is right for your oral needs.

Our compassionate dentists also use state-of-the-art technology to assist patients when it comes to comfort and healing time. Schedule an appointment with us today to learn more about how we can help solve your dental problems or visit us at our Winnipeg dental clinics located in Garden City Shopping Centre and St. Vital Centre. 

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