A young man biting his lip.

What Is A Mouth Cyst?

Do you have a lump inside your cheek tissue or lip and don't know what it is? It might be a mouth cyst. Mouth cysts (also known as mucous cysts) are thin, fluid-filled sacs that appear on the inside of your mouth. They're pretty easy to spot, and your dentist can sometimes diagnose a mucous cyst just by looking at it. If this is something you're experiencing, no worries. Mouth cysts usually don't cause you any pain. The bump inside your mouth may bother you a bit. And even if it doesn't, it's a good idea to have your dentist look at it to rule out more serious things. We've got you covered on everything about mouth cysts, including information about what they are, the causes, how to prevent, treat, and remove them.

Mouth Cysts 101

Mouth cysts most often appear near salivary gland openings or ducts. There are two kinds of mouth cysts: mucoceles and ranula.

  • Mucoceles appear on the inside of your lips, on your tongue, palate, and inside of your cheeks. The most common location for mucoceles is on the lower lip. Mucoceles usually appear as clear, bluish, or pink and soft, smooth, round, and dome-shaped. They may be up to 1 cm in diameter.
  • Ranulas occur on the floor of the mouth. They usually appear bluish and dome-shaped.

Here' what you can expect if you have a mucoceles mouth cyst:

  • A painless bump in your mouth that might irritate you because you notice it's there
  • The cyst may break open on its own and will likely heal after a few days after it breaks
  • Once it breaks open and heals, it could recur

For a ranula, you may experience:

  • A painless swelling on the floor of the mouth
  • Difficulty chewing, swallowing, and talking if it's big
  • Trouble (or cessation of) breathing if it grows into the neck muscle. FYI: This requires urgent medical care. If you experience this, call 911 right away.

If you notice any cyst or mass in your mouth or have trouble chewing, talking, or swallowing, contact your dentist right away. It's essential to rule out any bigger issues right away.

Causes and Prevention

What causes Mouth Cysts? Great question.

Mucoceles are usually caused by lip biting, lip sucking, or other trauma to the mouth. Ranulas, on the other hand, are caused when salivary glands under the tongue become blocked.

The good news is: to prevent some cysts from forming, it is recommended to avoid sucking your cheeks or biting your lips on purpose. If you're prone to these habits, bring your awareness to your tendency to engage in these behaviors, so you can work on stopping them. We know you can do it.

Mouth Cyst Treatment And Removal

Most mucous cysts don't require any treatment. And as we shared above, they can even rupture on their own. However, if a cyst returns and is persistent, you may need to remove it by an oral surgeon or dentist. Surgery is usually reserved for more serious cases and for cysts that have reoccurred several times.

To remove a mucocele, your dental provider will either freeze it, use a laser, or perform surgery to cut it out. Ranulas are usually removed using a laser or surgery. For ranulas, your provider will likely remove both the cyst and the gland that caused it.

You must never try to open a cyst yourself. It may look easy and tempting, but it can create an infection and even damage your tissues. So reach out to your dentist if your cyst starts to get uncomfortable or irritated, interferes with your chewing, or does not go away in a couple of weeks. Don't forget to keep up with your oral care by brushing twice a day and cleaning between your teeth daily.

Now you know all about mouth cysts and what to look out for if you think you have one. If you bite your lips or suck on your cheeks, remember that stopping this may help prevent some cysts. Most mouth cysts heal on their own, and it's always a good idea to get them checked out by your dentist to make sure it's not something more serious. It's also good to know that sometimes mouth cysts return after they heal. And that removal may be necessary in some cases. Regardless, if your cyst feels uncomfortable or prevents you from chewing, contact your dentist right away. They're here to make sure you and your smile feel great.

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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