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Materia alba

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I have a painless white patch which my ENT doctor found behind underneath food debris on the front teeth at the back by the last molar .

My ENT doctor told me to avoid brushing this area for a week for another condition and then discovered this white patch when she scraped off the food debris . She told me I have to come back again in a week . She said it wasn't there the week before .

I am very worried about this . Could the lack of brushing / irritation from food debris cause this ?

It has been 5 days since it was discovered and it doesn't look like its going away .

Category: ENT Specialist

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Category: ENT Specialist
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Thank you for using your consult at

Most likely this white patch is due to friction of debris.

It can be materia alba (a whitish or cream-colored cheesy mass deposited around the necks of the teeth, composed of food debris, mucin, and dead epithelial cells. It is usually associated with poor oral hygiene.)

Small white patch in oral cavity can be due to various other conditions including smoker’s keratosis, candida infection, lichen planus or it can be leukoplakia (when we exclude all other causes of white patch listed above).

My suggestion is not to worry. Continue to brush your teeth twice daily,use chlorhexidine mouth wash two times after meals and observe for one month. If not better by then, have regular follow up with your local doctor.

Hope this helps. Feel free to ask if you have any further queries.

Dr. Sunil Jalan

Patient replied :

Thank you . The white patch is behind the retrograde molar and ha only about 8mm by 2mm . It is not removable .

The ENT doctor has called it a white plaque .

My question is that is it possible that a mouth cancer lesion can develop so quickly in a week? She saw me on 20th and it wasn't there but noticed it on the 27th ?!?


I could understand the same with previous description. This is a small lesion. if it is not improving (decreasing in size or not disappearing) or if it is increasing in size then only we have to rule out other rare condition like cancer.

Other diagnosis what i have written are more common. So if it is not improving then only some time we can plan for biopsy to confirm the diagnosis. Your described lesion is not cancer. And cancer of oral cavity doesn't grow very fast.

So you need not to worry for it, just have a regular follow up with your local doctor.

Hope this helps. Feel free to ask if you have any further queries.

Thank you.

Patient replied :

Thank you . So 2 more questions :

- if it was discovered on the 27th , how long is a reasonable time for it to go ?

- a white patch Underneath food debris for a week is a reasonable diagnosis ? Would this food impact leave such a mark for a long time ?

- is it significant that it is painless.

It is very difficult to tell about duration of recovery of this white patch without correct diagnosis. I am not sure how long food take to make an impression, but still this will be most probable diagnosis (as common things are always common). We have to have observation and follow up.

Some white patch like leukoplakia in oral cavity stay in oral cavity for decades without any change or problem.
Most of white patches are painless only. It will not cause any problem.
If size increse then only you need biopsy for it otherwise you forget about it, nothing will happen overnight.

Hope this helps. Feel free to ask if you have any further queries.
Thank you.

Dr. Sunil Jalan
Category: ENT Specialist
DAA (Diploma in asthma and allergy) : Christian Medical College, Vellore, 2012
D.N.B (ENT), 2011
Residency - M.S. (Master post graduate degree in otorhinolaryngology),  Christian Medical College, Vellore, 2009
D.L.O. (Diploma in otorhinolaryngology) - Christian Medical College, Vellore, 2007
Medical School - M.B.B.S, S.P. Medical college, Bikaner, 2004
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