A torus palatinus is a bony development, which grows on the mouth’s roof. Such growths come in several different ways, and can be either quite small or very high.
A palatine torus is neither cancerous nor harmful. Since severe medical conditions can cause similar growths, however, it is important to have a doctor test for any changes in the mouth.
Learn more about tori palatini in this article including the causes, symptoms and treatment options.
The mouth’s hard palate, or roof, is slightly rounded and usually smooth. Some people may however have a hard lump or protrusion that stretches out of this area.
This mass, called a palatinous torus, will evolve over time. In other instances, a person could have it all his life.
Some symptoms a person might experience when he or she has a torus palatinus include:
- one or more hard lumps at the top of the mouth
- painless bumps at the top of the mouth
- difficulty getting orthodontic devices or mouth guards to fit correctly
- a speech impediment or a change in speech patterns, if the growths are large
- difficulty fitting dentures on the roof of mouth
- difficulty chewing, if the growths are new, large, or located near teeth
- difficulty swallowing
- food getting stuck around the growths
Some signs and symptoms that the growths might be something other than a torus palatinus include:
- the presence of other symptoms, such as fever or swelling
- ulcers on the gums
- the presence of growths elsewhere on the body
- feeling ill or noticing other unexplained symptoms
- the growths becoming painful
- symptoms of tooth decay, such as broken teeth, tooth pain, or very swollen gums
Tori palatini are popular in the United States, affecting around 20-30 percent of people. In women and people of Asian or Inuit descent, they tend to be more popular.
Physicians, however, do not understand what causes them, or why they are more prevalent in some populations than in others.
Possible causes and risk factors may include:
- Age: The growths are more common in people over the age of 30.
- Mouth shape and bite structure: The shape of a person’s mouth, tooth crowding, and other factors might increase the risk.
- Genetics: A 2015 study of twins suggests a strong genetic link for bony outgrowths in the mouth, even in those who have other risk factors.
- Tooth grinding: People who grind their teeth may be more likely to experience these bony growths.
- Bone mineral density: Changes in bone mineral density may cause a torus palatinus. A few older studies suggest that older adults with a torus palatinus have higher bone mineral density than their peers.
Tori palatini appear to be harmless. Usually they won’t need care unless they interfere with a person’s voice, swallowing capacity or everyday life.
Removal can however be necessary before creating a denture. In that case, a dentist may prescribe surgery to remove growth or modify the dental device’s shape to fit around the growth.
Also, many other medical conditions may cause swollen growths in the mouth, including in the hard palate. Including:
- a dental abscess, which may cause swelling or a cyst on or near an infected tooth
- oral cancer, which can cause unusual growths on the palate or in the throat
- a cyst in the mouth
- injury to the mouth from sharp or hot food, dental appliances, tooth grinding, or trauma such as a blow to the mouth
- an infected wound in the mouth
Palatini Tori aren’t harmful. Grows do not cause cancer, diseases, or other complications of severe nature. However it can interfere with normal functioning like any development in the body.
Very large growths are more likely to cause problems, especially those near other structures. Some common problems include:
- Discomfort in the mouth: A person may find that the growth interferes with the normal positioning of their tongue or makes it difficult to close or rest the mouth comfortably.
- Swallowing: Depending on the location of the growth, a person may have difficulty swallowing.
- Eating and chewing: Food may get stuck on the growth or make it difficult to swallow.
- Oral hygiene: Sometimes, the growth may make it difficult to brush the teeth effectively. When food gets stuck on the growth, it can cause oral health issues such as bad breath and tooth decay.
- Speech issues: Occasionally, the growth may make it difficult to correctly move the tongue and mouth when speaking. This can cause a person to develop speech issues such as a lisp.
- Anxiety: Some people are self-conscious about the growth. Others may feel afraid that it will become cancerous, especially if they keep developing new growths.
When to see a doctor
For any irregular growths in the mouth a person should see a doctor or dentist. Even if it looks like a torus palatinus, other possible causes are necessary to rule out.
Those with a tori palatini background will see a doctor if:
- they notice new growths
- the growths become painful
- the growths cause new symptoms, such as difficulty swallowing or talking
- the growths do not disappear in a few weeks
- the growths change in size or color
- they develop other symptoms, such as bleeding from the growths, mouth pain, bad breath, broken teeth, or other oral health issues
Developing a torus palatinus can be troubling, particularly to someone who has anxiety about oral health or cancer. These growths, however, are benign, meaning they do not cause cancer and are not a risk factor for cancer.
A individual does not need to treat them, as long as they do not cause severe symptoms.
Since new growths in the mouth may warn of a more serious health problem, however, it is best to consult a doctor rather than self-diagnosis.