Dental Keratosis

Dental keratosis, also known as oral frictional hyperkeratosis, refers to a benign white lesion that can develop on the oral mucosa due to chronic trauma or friction in the affected area. This condition typically occurs in adults and is characterized by the presence of thickened, asymptomatic patches on the oral mucosa.

The most common locations for dental keratosis are the maxillary and mandibular alveolar ridges, particularly following tooth extractions. After a tooth extraction, the previously “protected” alveolar ridge mucosa becomes exposed to trauma, leading to a protective response of hyperkeratosis. This frequently occurs in the area of extracted mandibular third molars on the retromolar pad.

However, dental keratosis can also develop in other areas depending on the circumstances. For example, a sharp or broken cusp that repeatedly rubs against the buccal mucosa (inner lining of the cheek) or the lateral/ventral surfaces of the tongue can cause localized hyperkeratosis.

The formation of these hyperkeratotic patches takes several months, and they persist as long as the traumatic events continue. It’s important to note that dental keratosis is generally a benign condition that does not usually require treatment unless it causes significant discomfort or raises aesthetic concerns. Some additional specifics of dental keratosis include:

1. Clinical Presentation: Dental keratosis appears as white lesions on the oral mucosa. These lesions are typically thickened and may have a rough or textured appearance due to the accumulation of keratin.

2. Asymptomatic Nature: Dental keratosis is usually asymptomatic, meaning it does not cause pain or discomfort to the individual. The lesions are often discovered incidentally during routine dental examinations.

3. Chronic Trauma: The development of dental keratosis is associated with chronic friction or trauma to the affected area. This can occur due to factors such as tooth extraction, sharp or broken cusps of teeth, or repetitive contact with objects like dental appliances or oral habits.

4. Common Sites: The most common sites for dental keratosis are the maxillary and mandibular alveolar ridges, particularly following tooth extractions. Specifically, the area of extracted mandibular third molars on the retromolar pad is frequently affected. However, other areas of the oral mucosa can also be involved depending on the source of chronic trauma.

5. Protective Mechanism: Dental keratosis is considered a protective response of the oral mucosa. The thickening of the mucosal layer (hyperkeratosis) serves as a defense mechanism against ongoing friction or trauma, safeguarding the underlying tissues.

6. Timeframe: The formation of hyperkeratotic patches in dental keratosis takes several months. The duration of the lesions is closely tied to the persistence of the chronic traumatic events. If the friction or trauma ceases, the hyperkeratotic patches may gradually regress or resolve.

It is important to note that while these specifics support the general understanding of dental keratosis, individual cases may vary. The diagnosis and management of dental keratosis should always be conducted by a qualified dental professional who can assess the specific situation, provide an accurate diagnosis, and offer appropriate treatment or monitoring based on the patient’s needs.

If you suspect you have dental keratosis or any other oral condition, it is advisable to seek professional dental care. A dental professional can provide a thorough examination, accurate diagnosis, and appropriate recommendations based on your specific situation.