Mouth ulcers are not uncommon, but developing a sore on the roof of your mouth may lead to concern. Bear in mind that the location of this oral sore has many possible sources, so there's no need to assume the worst. A sore on the roof of your mouth tissue could indicate one of these four conditions:
Bumps on the roof of your mouth are sometimes just a minor burn, particularly after a hot meal. This phenomenon is known as "pizza palate", since hot pizza slices are often a cause of irritation in this part of the mouth. However, these burns can be triggered by any hot foods – not just pizza. Hot drinks, like coffee or tea, can lead to similar mouth burns.
A burned palate usually heals by itself within three to seven days. To ease your discomfort in the meantime, stick to soft foods and cool drinks. If the pain is severe, your dentist may recommend using a mouth rinse to soothe your sores and promote quicker healing. If the pain persists after seven days, don't hesitate to see your dentist.
Canker sores generally develop on the inside of your cheeks, but don't be surprised to feel them on the roof of your mouth. Canker sores are round, sensitive masses whose origins depend on the case. Researchers think these sores may be caused by problems with the immune system, and are therefore triggered through factors like stress, certain foods and hormonal changes.
People generally develop one to three canker sores at a time, but some may develop 10 or more sores. These sores usually hurt for a little over a week, then disappear completely after two weeks. While you wait for your mouth to heal, eating bland foods may prevent further irritation to your sores. Your dentist may also prescribe a pain-relieving gel to be applied to your sores during the recovery process. If your sores haven't healed after two weeks, they should be examined by your dentist.
Sores on the roof of your mouth – particularly those that don't clear right away – could also be cold sores. A common growth caused by the herpes simplex virus, cold sores are usually found on the lips. According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology, however, they can also be found on the hard palate. These sores present themselves as painful, fluid-filled blisters; the blisters later rupture and crust over as less-painful lesions.
Cold sores usually become crustier within four days of appearing, and should heal completely after eight to 10 days. While they're healing, avoid touching or picking at them, just as you would for a scab. If the sores don't go away on their own, make an appointment with your dentist.
Although some of the sores that form on the roof of your mouth are harmless, not all of them are best left alone. In some cases, sores on the roof of your mouth can be a symptom of oral cancer. If a sore on the roof of your mouth hasn't healed after two weeks, have it examined by your dentist as soon as possible. Oral cancer is most treatable when caught early, so it's important to bring suspicious sores to your dentist's attention right away.
If your dentist suspects a sore is cancerous, he or she will likely send you to an oral surgeon for an oral evaluation and perform a biopsy of the tissue. If cancer is found, treatment can start just as quickly. This treatment often involves surgically removing the cancerous sore, followed by radiation or chemotherapy to be sure it doesn't affect other cells.
If you develop a sore in roof-of-mouth tissue, there's no need to assume the cause is out of your control. These sores can have many triggers, ranging from harmless burns to more invasive causes. Many of them go away on their own, but a sore on the roof of your mouth that doesn't heal within two weeks is a good reason to see your dentist for an evaluation.