What causes a bump on the roof of the mouth?
By: Elaine K. Luo, MD, Medical News Today
A bump on the roof of the mouth can be worrisome, especially if it does not go away quickly. Most causes of a bump on this part of the body are easily treatable, but it may also indicate a more serious underlying condition.
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In this article, learn what can cause a bump on the roof of the mouth, including possible additional symptoms and when to see a doctor.
1. Canker sores
Canker sores are round, open sores in the mouth. They may be white, yellow, or pale pink and are very sensitive.
Canker sores are most common in the cheeks and gums, but they can also appear in unusual places, such as the roof of the mouth.
There are various causes of canker sores, including biting the cheek while chewing and scratching the roof of the mouth.
These sores usually resolve within a couple of weeks. They are not contagious, but they can be painful or uncomfortable and may make eating difficult.
Some over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription oral creams may numb the pain.
Hot beverages, such as coffee or tea, or foods that have just finished cooking can burn the inside of the mouth, including the roof. If the burn is severe enough, a bump or blister can form.
Minor burns usually heal without treatment, as long as the person takes care to avoid irritating the sensitive skin.
3. Trauma or injury
The inside of the mouth is a sensitive area. Injury to the tissue on the roof of the mouth can lead to a bump forming.
This type of bump may result from:
- puncture wounds
- damage to the mouth from tobacco use
- accidents from dental work
- irritation from dentures
An injury may cause scar tissue to form in the mouth, which might be lumpy and raised. The sore may be painful or sensitive but will usually heal on its own.
Regularly rinsing the mouth with warm salt water may help promote healing.
4. Cold sores
Cold sores occur when a person has a herpes simplex virus outbreak. The virus produces blisters on the lips and in the mouth. They may also form on the roof of the mouth.
The signs and symptoms of cold sores may include:
- a tingling sensation before the blisters appear
- blisters that form in patches or clusters
- oozing or open blisters that do not rupture
- blisters that do rupture and crust over before healing
Unlike canker sores, cold sores are very contagious. The outbreak usually clears up without treatment, but it is important to avoid coming into close contact with anyone during that time to prevent spreading the virus.
A doctor may prescribe some medications to speed up the healing process if necessary.
Mucoceles are oral mucous cysts that form due to an irritated or inflamed salivary gland. Mucus builds up in the gland, leading to a round, fluid-filled bump or growth.
Mucoceles are not usually a cause for concern and will heal without treatment, although this may take several weeks.
6. Torus palatinus
A very hard lump on the roof of the mouth may be a sign of torus palatinus. Torus palatinus is an extra bone growth that is benign and not indicative of an underlying condition.
The growth can appear at any age, and it may continue to grow throughout a person's life. It will not usually require treatment unless it affects a person's ability to eat, drink, or talk.
Oral candidiasis can cause white bumps in the mouth.
Oral candidiasis is a form of yeast infection that may cause red or white bumps in the mouth.
It is vital to see a doctor or dentist for a proper diagnosis of oral candidiasis, as the symptoms may mimic those of other conditions.
A doctor is likely to recommend oral antifungal medication to treat the issue. They will also provide advice on how to prevent the infection in the future.
8. Hand, foot, and mouth disease
Coxsackievirus is the name of the virus that causes hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD). The virus infects the mouth, causing painful blisters and red bumps.
As the name suggests, the symptoms may also appear on the hands and feet. Other symptoms include fever and body aches.
HFMD is more common in young children, but it can affect anyone. Doctors may prescribe medicated mouthwash to help relieve symptoms while they treat the virus.
9. Epstein pearls
Parents who notice lumps in a baby's mouth may be seeing Epstein pearls. These are cysts that commonly appear in newborns.
Epstein pearls are white or yellow and will go away a few weeks after the birth without causing any additional problems.
Although rare, a bump in the top of the mouth may be an extra tooth. People with hyperdontia grow too many teeth.
In the upper jaw, these extra teeth usually pop up just behind other teeth, but sometimes they can appear further back toward the roof of the mouth.
Hyperdontia is treatable, and dentists can usually remove any extra teeth without complications.
11. Squamous papilloma
The human papillomavirus may also cause bumps to develop in the mouth. These growths are noncancerous, painless, and may have a bumpy, cauliflower-like texture.
Although they can be distracting, squamous papillomas often go away without treatment.
12. Oral cancer
In rare cases, sores or bumps on the roof of the mouth may be cancerous. Bumps that occur due to oral cancer may be white, gray, or bright red, depending on the underlying cause. They may feel smooth or velvety.
Possible signs of oral cancer include:
- a lump or sore that does not heal
- a rapidly growing lump
- an oddly shaped patch of tissue
- open, bleeding sores
However, oral cancer is not the most likely cause of a bump on the roof of the mouth. Many people may confuse signs of oral cancer with other issues in the mouth.
It is crucial to give the sores time to heal. If a bump shows no signs of healing after 2 weeks, it is essential to speak to a doctor for a proper diagnosis.
When to see a doctor
While many bumps on the roof of the mouth will resolve without treatment, some may require medical intervention. A person should see a doctor for:
- very discolored patches in the mouth
- pain lasting more than a couple of days
- a foul smell in the mouth
- pain when chewing or swallowing
- severe burns
- dentures, retainers, or other dental devices that no longer fit properly
- trouble breathing
- a fast-growing bump
- a bump that changes shape
- a bump that does not go away after 2 weeks
- a bump that interferes with daily life
Anyone who is concerned about a bump on the roof of their mouth should speak to a doctor, who can help determine the underlying cause and recommend treatment if necessary.
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