Exostosis Mouth: A Complicated Term for Benign Bony Growths

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Exostosis mouth is a term used to describe an overgrowth of calcified bone in the oral cavity. These bony protuberances are found on the maxilla (upper jaw) or the mandible (lower jaw). Although the term may sound grave, the condition is not only benign, but also uncommon and very rarely requires any treatment.

The Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine highlights a case of exostosis mouth, describing it as a benign, bony overgrowth that is sometimes detected by chance. Very often, if a person has these nodules in their mouth, they are unaware that they're an anomaly that most people do not exhibit clinically. In this particular case, the exostoses were present in the form of tori on both the upper and lower jaw. Since they were not causing any oral problems or symptoms, no treatment was indicated.

Exostosis Mouth: Types and Causes

Tori and exostoses are identified by their location in the mouth. Torus palatinus (TP) and torus mandibularis (TM) are the two most common types of these bony overgrowths. TP is a diffuse nodular growth found in the mid-line of the hard palate or roof of the mouth. TM growths are found in the lingual area of the floor of the mouth adjacent to the canine and premolar teeth. Less common are buccal exostoses that are found on the cheek side of the jaws usually near the premolar and molar areas. With the exception of TP, these growths usually present bi-laterally, meaning they occur on both sides of the mouth. Clinically, when palpated, they all feel like a hard, bony mass covered by tissue or mucosa.

Wondering what causes exostosis in the mouth? Very often there is no origin or etiology related to these bumps; however, it has been related to mild inflammation in the periosteum or jaw bone. The cause of this mild inflammation can be increased chewing function or overuse of the jaws as in clenching or grinding. Appearing in late teens or early adulthood, they do tend to increase in size over time.

Issues and Treatment for Exostosis Mouth

Although these growths are benign, occasionally they can cause problems, especially if they become large enough to interfere with functions of the mouth. TM, if very large, can inhibit proper speaking, and all types of exostosis can interfere with denture placement. Additionally, the mucosa covering them is very thin and prone to scratches and injuries from sharp food, sometimes resulting in ulcer formation from the trauma.

In the rare instance where treatment is recommended, the exostosis can be removed in a dental specialist's office, usually by an oral surgeon. Under local anesthesia, the surgeon will make an incision and lift the soft tissue away to expose the overgrowth of bone. Typically, the bone is trimmed using a high speed dental hand piece, and the tissue is sutured back in place. Advances in dental lasers and their ability to penetrate hard tissues have shown promise for a more efficient and less invasive option, reports Dentistry Today.

Exostosis mouth is very rarely a concern for the dentist or patient. Treatment is only necessary when the nodules interfere with the normal functions of the mouth or become an aesthetic concern for the patient. Do you have bony bumps in your mouth? To keep the rest of your mouth healthy, brush twice daily with a toothpaste like Colgate Total Daily Repair, which repairs early teeth and gum damage. Also schedule regular dental visits. Your dentist and dental hygienist can detect oral problems early and suggest the best treatments for you.

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