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What Are Dental Tori?

If you slide your tongue around your lower gums or the roof of your mouth, do you feel any alien hard bumps?

If so, the bumps are most likely harmless growths of extra bone called tori. Emphasis on the word “harmless.” Dental tori are simply tiny hills of bone covered by normal gum tissue.

The two most common types of tori are mandibular and palatal.

Mandibular tori – or mandibular torus if it's a single bump – show up in the lower jawbone. About six percent of the U.S. population experience this condition, notes the Cleveland Clinic.

Palatal tori is a bony growth that manifests in the palate, aka the roof of your mouth. It is commonly known as torus palatinus and occurs in about 20 percent of the U.S. population.

The third type of dental tori is buccal exostoses, which occur on the outside area of the upper or lower jaw ridge in your mouth.

How Can I Detect Symptoms of Dental Tori?

The appearance of these slow-growing bony nodules in your mouth is the main "symptom." Many people don't even realize they have tori until they undergo a dental exam.

The growths can appear as single or multiple nodules in a range of shapes: regular or irregular, flat, spindle-shaped, or nodular.

Inside your mouth, mandibular tori emerge on the backside of your lower gums – with the bony growths developing on either or both sides.

Palatal tori appear in the roof of the mouth's center and might slowly grow larger over time. Though located in the palate, these tori rarely interfere with eating and speech.

If you notice any torus in your mouth, rest assured that it's a benign growth that's not cancerous, nor will it evolve into cancer. However, if you detect any areas in your mouth that experience changes or concern you, it's always best to consult your dentist.

What Causes Dental Tori?

A combination of multiple factors could be in play for someone to develop oral tori, according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, the Cleveland Clinic, and a Stomatologij study.

Dental tori factors include:

  • Trauma or injury to the mouth's interior
  • Jawbone stress due to teeth grinding and clenching
  • Lifestyle/diet influences, such as vitamin deficiencies, fish consumption, and calcium-rich diets.
  • Age and sex
  • Genetics

How Can I Treat Dental Tori?

Since tori don't interfere with daily eating, drinking, or speaking most of the time, dental professionals usually don't recommend treatment. However, treatment might be in order if the tori:

  • Become inflamed when scraped while eating or engaging in other activities (i.e., having dental X-rays)
  • Begin to interfere with routine oral home care or basic daily functions (i.e., eating and speaking)
  • Hinder the placement of braces or a prosthesis (i.e., a crown or dentures)
  • Grow to the point where they touch in the middle of the mouth
  • Cause other oral health problems

In the event of scraped tori, decrease bacteria in your mouth while the area heals. This is easily done by cleansing the injured area with a germ-killing fluoride toothpaste or rinse.

If the tori must be extracted, a maxillofacial surgeon will be the specialist to remove the bony growth, usually during out-patient surgery. This procedure has the same risks as any surgery.

The best thing to do daily is to avoid irritating any growths during your dental routine. Stick to brushing with a soft-bristled toothbrush. This toothbrush will help remove bacteria from teeth, tongue, cheeks, and gums.

Tori or not, keeping your mouth clean and healthy is the best way to avoid oral health issues.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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