Palatal Tori: Causes and Treatment

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Palatal tori are benign growths that occur on the palate or roof of your mouth. A torus, or bony protrusion, can occur at any time starting in adolescence, but as Science Direct (SD) reports more cases are found in older patients (or those over 18). Of course, feeling an enlarged growth can be worrisome at first. However, these bony growths are common; at least 20 percent of people in the U.S. have them, and they are not a cause for concern, assures the Cleveland Clinic. While these slow-growing areas of bone are not harmful per se, your dentist might move forward with treatment if it interferes with your oral health, hygiene, sleep or for medical reasons. Get the facts on what treatment options are available and what to know before you move forward.

Causes of Palatal Tori

Tori, also called "exostosis," are growths of bone or cartilage and can appear anywhere in the top or bottom of your mouth, typically near the molar regions. A torus on the palate can range in shape or size and is typically located in the middle of your mouth, states the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research. Presently, research in SD shows that the cause of these growths may be genetic and that women tend to have them more than men. Likewise, tori on the palate, as opposed to on the mandible, is more prominent in certain regions, namely Germany, Norway, Croatia, Thailand and Malaysia.

If you have a vitamin deficiency, eat a lot of fish, or enjoy foods high in calcium, you may be more prone to developing one of these growths. Cultures that eat a lot of frozen or raw meat have higher incidences, reports CCJM. If you have a habit of grinding your teeth, you may also be at risk of developing a torus. So, it's always a good idea to talk to your dentist about ways to curb this habit, such as using night guards or practicing relaxation techniques.

When to Seek Treatment for Palatal Tori

You should never ignore a bump or cyst that appears in your mouth. Showing up to your regular checkups is important. Schedule an appointment with your dentist if you notice a lump. Your dentist may take a biopsy to diagnose the growth. In most cases, if the palatal torus (or tori) are not causing you discomfort and are not interfering with your health, your dentist will simply keep an eye on the growth(s) and no further treatment will be necessary.

However, depending on the size of the torus and location, you may experience problems breathing, soreness after eating or trouble speaking. Additionally, your dentist might advise removing the growth if it's interfering with dental appliances, such as dentures, or with your oral hygiene.

What to Ask Before Treatment

Considering the location in your mouth and the tenderness of the area, you might be fearful of the treatment and recovery process. Your dentist will refer you to an oral surgeon to schedule an appointment for an oral examination and discuss treatment options. Laser treatment may be a less invasive route, requiring local anesthesia, over-the-counter pain medicine and stitches – which are typically removed within a week.

Before undergoing treatment, you may want to discuss the following topics with your oral surgeon: insurance coverage, concerns you might have about anesthesia, what level of discomfort or pain to expect after the treatment, healing duration and post-operative care requirements. Your oral surgeon will likely advise that you stay away from foods that could disrupt the sutures or irritate the area. A dressing may be placed over the surgical area to protect it while it's healing. For the first few days following any minor mouth surgery, the Canadian Dental Association (CDA) recommends avoiding alcohol, hot liquids and hard foods. Keep up with your oral hygiene post treatment. Brush daily with a soft-bristled brush like Colgate's 360 Enamel Health for Sensitive Teeth toothbrush, which has 48 percent softer bristles. By following your oral surgeon's aftercare plan, you can expect to heal in one to two weeks.

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