Most of us have felt a bump on the roof of our mouths at some point or another. Most of the time we ignore it and it goes away. But, what if it doesn’t go away quickly? Most causes of a bump on this part of the body are easily treatable, but it may also indicate a more serious underlying condition.
San Francisco Dentist Dr. Edward Loev DMD has been caring for patients for a very long time and has been asked every question under the sun and moon. Questions about bumps in mouths are very common ones so he and his team put together a list of the 12 most common causes, symptoms and a guideline to help you determine if it’s okay to wait and see if it goes away, or if you should call your doctor or dentist.
- Canker sores
Canker sores can appear on the roof of the mouth. Canker sores are round, open sores in the mouth. These sores are often very sensitive can vary in color from white, yellow, to pale pink. They are often very sensitive. Most of us think of canker sores on our cheeks and gums but they can also appear on the top of one’s month. There are various causes of canker sores, but they are often caused by biting the cheek while chewing or scratching the roof of one’s mouth. These sores usually resolve themselves within a couple of weeks. They are not contagious, but they can be painful or uncomfortable and may make eating difficult. To treat the pain we suggest gargling with warm salt water and/or dabbing a small amount of milk of magnesia on the lesion. Some over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription oral creams may numb the pain but they will not aid in the healing process so we generally dissuade patients from using them.
We have all done it… Been so excited about a hot beverage (Yay! Pumpkin Spice Lattes are back!) that we don’t wait long enough for it to cool and end up burn our tongue and mouth. Hot beverages, such as coffee or tea, or foods that have just finished cooking can burn the inside of the mouth, including the roof. Sometimes the burn is severe enough that a bump blister may form. Minor burns usually heal without treatment, as long as the one takes care to avoid irritating the sensitive skin.
Is that a bump I feel or is the roof of my mouth actually swollen?
Many conditions may cause a bump to develop or can even cause the roof of one’s mouth to swell. Find out about them here.
- Trauma or injury
Our mouths are very sensitive areas. Basic injury to this delicate tissue can cause bumps and swelling.
This type of bump may result from:
An injury may cause scar tissue to form in the mouth, which might be lumpy and raised. The sore may be painful or sensitive but will usually heal on its own. Once again we suggest rinsing with warm salt water to help expedite the healing and gain some relief. In the case of tobacco damage reach out to a doctor or friend to help break that habit. Medications are even available to help you break the habit. If you have just had dental treatment done give your mouth a week or so to heal before reaching out to your dentist. If your denture is causing irritation reach out to your dentist so that they can adjust or reline your denture to make it more comfortable.
- Cold sores
Cold sores occur when a person has a herpes simplex virus outbreak. Herpes simplex is highly contagious so use caution when you are having an outbreak or when you feel one coming on. Cold sores generally occur on the lips but can develop on the roof of the mouth too.
The signs and symptoms of cold sores may include:
-a tingling sensation before the blisters appear
-blisters that form in patches or clusters
-oozing or open blisters that do not rupture
-blisters that do rupture and crust over before healing
A doctor may prescribe some medications to speed up the healing process if necessary.
A mucocele, also known as a mucous cyst, is a clear or bluish bump that can be found on the lips, floor or roof of the mouth, tongue or salivary gland. Mucus builds up in the gland, leading to a round, fluid-filled bump or growth they may get in the way of chewing, speaking, swallowing, and in some cases, breathing (usually not). Luckily they usually dissolve on their own over the course of several weeks though according to the U.S. National Library of Health (NIH) they may last several years,
- Torus palatinus
A very hard lump on the roof of the mouth may be a sign of torus palatinus. Torus palatinus is an extra bone growth that is benign and not indicative of an underlying condition. The growth can appear at any age, and it may continue to grow throughout a person's life. It rarely requires treatment unless it affects a person's ability to eat, drink, or talk.
Candidiasis on the tongue. Oral candidiasis often also referred to as oral thrush. Candida is a normal organism in your mouth, but sometimes it can overgrow and cause symptoms. Oral thrush causes creamy white lesions, usually on your tongue or inner cheeks. Sometimes oral thrush may spread to the roof of your mouth, your gums or tonsils, or the back of your throat. It can cause white or red bumps in the mouth. Oral candidiasis is a form of yeast infection. It is vital to see a doctor or dentist for a proper diagnosis of oral candidiasis, as its symptoms may mimic those of other conditions. A doctor is likely to recommend oral antifungal medication to treat the issue. They will also provide advice on how to prevent the infection in the future and help organize further treatment if needed.
- Hand, foot, and mouth disease
Coxsackievirus is the name of the virus that causes hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD). The virus infects the mouth, causing painful blisters and red bumps. It can also have symptoms on hands and feet. Other symptoms include fever and body aches. It can range from almost unnoticeable to very extreme. HFMD is highly contagious for ~12 days before outbreak and after. Other symptoms include fever and body aches. There is no specific treatment for this typically self-limited disease (the symptoms resolve without specific antiviral treatment in about two to 10 days. However, pain releivers can be used to alleviate pain and some physicians believe that topical application of Gentian Lilac, a topical anesthetic is helpful in killing the virus.
- Epstein pearls
Parents who notice lumps in a baby's mouth may be seeing Epstein pearls. These are cysts that commonly appear in newborns. Epstein pearls are white or yellow and will go away a few weeks after the birth without causing any additional problems.
Hyperdontia is a condition that causes too many teeth to grow in your mouth. These extra teeth are sometimes called supernumerary teeth. They can grow anywhere in the curved areas where teeth attach to your jaw. Although rare, a bump in the top of the mouth may be an extra tooth. A person with hyperdontia may experience pain in the area where the extra tooth is growing as well as jaw pain and headaches. Hyperdontia is treatable, and dentists can usually remove any extra teeth without complications.
- Squamous papilloma
The human papillomavirus may also cause bumps to develop in the mouth. These growths are noncancerous, painless, and may have a bumpy, cauliflower-like texture. Although they can be distracting, squamous papillomas often go away without treatment. There have been some studies showing an increased rate of cancer in those with HPV so play it safe and consult a doctor.
- Oral cancer
Signs of oral cancer can include a sore that does not heal and an oddly shaped patch of tissue. In rare cases, those stubborn sores or lumps on the roof of one’s mouth may be cancerous. Be most concerned about lumps/bumps that are white, gray, or bright red. The underlying cause generally dictates the color any color may feel smooth or velvety.
Possible signs of oral cancer include:
- Bump or sore that does not heal
- Lump that suddenly appears out of the blue with no identifiable cause
- Oddly shaped patch of tissue
- Open, bleeding sores or lesions
Fortunately, oral cancer is not the most likely cause of a bump on the roof of one’s mouth. However, it is important to be diligent and seek treatment and a medical consultation if bump, lump or sore shows no sign of healing even after 2 weeks. Many people may confuse signs of oral cancer with other issues in the mouth.
When to consult a doctor
While many bumps on the roof of the mouth will resolve without treatment, some may require medical intervention. A person should see a doctor for:
- A patch of oral tissue which is very discolored
- Severe pain lasting more than a couple of days
- A persistent foul smell in the mouth
- Marked pain when chewing and/or swallowing
- After suffering severe intraoral burn
- When your dentures, retainers, or other dental devices no longer fit comfortably and cause sores
- A fast growing bump with no logical cause
- A lump/bump that dramatically changes shape
- A bump that does not decrease in size or go away after 2 weeks
- A bump that interferes with one’s daily life
Listen to your body, if something hurts or just feels wrong have it checked out. A little visit to the doctor or dentist can end up saving your life or at very least giving you some relief and peace of mind.
San Francisco Cosmetic Dentist Dr. Edward L. Loev, DMD has been caring for his patients for decades from his dental office overlooking San Francisco’s Union Square and the San Francisco Bay. He and his team take pride in providing the best quality and most gentle dental care available. Over the years they have transformed 100’s of “non-dentist” people into people who actually enjoy their visits and take pride in their smiles. A dental relationship should be a positive one, make sure that you feel comfortable and cared for by your dentist if the experience is “meh…” then ask friends, family and colleagues about their dentist. If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area and are in need or want of a new dentist. Dr. Loev and his team would love the opportunity to meet you and earn your trust and loyalty call them at 415-392-2072 or schedule an appointment online today