The palate or roof of your mouth is a bony structure overlaid with soft tissue. You use it to form certain sounds when speaking and to help chew and swallow. In most people, the palate is concave and smooth, and it remains that way all their lives. However, sometimes nodules (bony growths) may appear along the center line of the palate due to a condition called torus palatinus. While the nodules may look concerning, they are generally nothing to worry about.
What Is Torus Palatinus?
This is a complicated name for a simple, harmless, painless condition. One or more bony growths may appear in the roof of the mouth and slowly grow bigger, but they rarely interfere with eating and speech. The word "palatinus" refers to the roof of the mouth, and "torus" refers to the bony nodules.
Single or multiple nodules in a range of shapes may appear. The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association explains that the growths can be regular or irregular, flat, spindle-shaped or nodular.
These growths are harmless, but more serious conditions also cause growths in the mouth, so it is important to see a dentist for a proper diagnosis.
Causes and Risk Factors of Torus Palatinus
The Cleveland Clinic estimates that the condition occurs in about 20 percent of the U.S. population, and it is the most common type of torus. While anyone can develop it, certain populations have a higher risk. According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery, women older than 30 are most likely to develop the nodules. Additionally, a study inStomatologija notes that tori on the palate are more common in German, Norwegian, Croatian, Thai and Malaysia populations.
The causes of torus palatinus aren't clear, but heredity and trauma seem to play a role. The Stomatologija study explains that researchers have found a strong genetic component to bony growths in the mouth. The Cleveland Clinic notes that trauma or injury to the mouth's interior may result in the appearance of the bony growths, which may help explain why teeth grinding and clenching are linked with the condition. Further, research suggests diet has an influence, such as vitamin deficiencies, fish consumption and a calcium-rich diet.
Torus Palatinus and Complications
The growths usually don't cause any complications, and many medical experts advise against having them removed in most cases. However, certain situations may call for surgical removal, such as when a person needs to be fitted for dental prosthetics. Your dentist can explain if you're a good candidate for removal.
Treatment and Surgery forTorus Palatinus
A maxillofacial surgeon is the specialist who usually removes the bony growths of torus palatinus. After applying a local anesthetic, the surgeon opens the palate tissue and removes the excess bone, smoothing the area before closing the wound with surgical stitches. The risks of complications from the surgery are small but include swelling, bleeding and infection. An even rarer complication is allergy to the anesthetic.
If you notice nodules on the roof of your mouth, book a dentist's appointment. Though the nodes may not be harmful, only a dental professional can make the correct diagnosis and give you peace of mind. Remember to keep up your daily oral hygiene habits, too by brushing twice daily, flossing and consider adding a mouthwash to your routine.