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Got a Bump on the Roof of Your Mouth?

Posted in Dental Care, Dental Dentures, Dental Surgery, General Dentistry, Pediatric Dental, and Tooth Extraction

10 Possible diagnoses for Bumps on the Roof of Your Mouth

When you take a moment to think about all everything the roof of your mouth experiences during a day, both the soft and hard pallet of the mouth takes a beating. Although it is very durable, it is not uncommon to injure or cause harm to that part of your mouth. Discovering lumps or bumps on the roof of your mouth is often nothing to worry about, most are harmless. Here is a list of 10 possible diagnoses for a bump on the roof of your mouth in no particular order.

Canker sores

Canker sores (or aphthous ulcers) are small, red, white, or yellowish shallow lesions that develop on the soft tissues of your mouth and along your gum line. They only grow inside the mouth, never on your lips and they are not contagious. These soars are painful and sometimes make eating and even talking difficult. Cankers can very in size and sensitivity, but they usually go away within 10 days. If yours are unusually large and don’t go away quickly or reoccur frequently, see your doctor or dentist. Additional symptoms of Canker sores include pain, difficulty swallowing, and sore throat. For some relief try over the counter Oragel.

Torus palatinus

Torus palatinus may sound like a serious condition but is a common and hereditary bone growth located in the middle of your hard pallet. This extra bone growth is not a symptom of any known disease, rather just something approximately 20% of people are born with. It varies in size and often appears to grow later in life. It can either be smooth or have bumpy ridges. This bump isn’t painful but if it grows too big it is sometimes surgically removed. Torus plantinus is most common in women and people of Asian decent. Learn More

Nasopalatine Duct Cysts

A nasopalatine duct cyst (or cyst of the palatine papilla)grows in your incisive papilla, a place you know as “the hard pallet behind your two front teeth”. Commonly, a nasopalatine duct cyst is painless but if it becomes an irritant, it can be surgically removed. The cause of nasopalatine duct cysts is an “enigma” or its not known, although there are theories. Learn more about nasopalatine duct cysts.

Cold Sores

Cold sores (caused by the herpes simplex virus 1) are fluid-filled blisters that typically form on the lips but can also develop on the roof of your mouth. 1 in 4 people have reoccurring cold sores and 67% of people worldwide have HSV1 but not all of them get cold sores. These sores are painful and often form in groups of blisters. Some report tingling or itchy sensation before they appear. The blister eventually will break and crust over but like any blister it can ooze and is painful until it is sealed by a scab. Usually, a cold sore will heal within 14 days but are very contagious during that time. You can get some relief from cold sores using over the counter medications such as Abreva.

Epstein pearls

Epstein pearls (or gingival cysts) are whitish-yellow cysts that newborns get on their gums and the roof of their mouths. They’re very common, occurring in 60% of newborns. Many first-time parents mistake Epstine pearls for teeth coming in. Epstein pearls are not painful and are harmless. They usually disappear withing a few weeks of birth. These insignificant cysts most often occur if the baby is born to an older mom, past its due date, or with a high birth weight. Learn more about Epstine pearls.

Oral Mucous Cysts

Oral Mucous Cysts (or Mucoceles) can form on your lips, upper mouth, gums, and even under the tongue. (if under the tongue they’re called “ranulas”. They’re basically tiny areas of swelling usually caused by injured salivary glands. Mucoceles are fluid filled, round, transparent, red, or blue painless spots. They can appear alone or in small groups of Mucoceles. Although these cysts can last days or weeks, they usually do not need treatment. In rare cases Mucoceles become enlarged. In this case don’t try to open them or treat them yourself. See your doctor, or your dentist for expert advice. Read more about Oral Mucous Cysts.

Oral Squamous Papillomas

Oral squamous papillomas (OSP) are noncancerous masses or benign tumors caused by human papilloma virus (HPV). They can form on the roof of your mouth or elsewhere in your mouth. They are “small fingerlike projections, resulting in an exophytic lesion with a rough or cauliflowerlike verrucous surface.” OSP grows slowly, is painless and white or pink in color. The virus that causes it is spread by direct contact only. Early diagnosis and surgical removal is a good idea to prevent future complications, see your dentist or Maxillofacial Surgeon if you suspect you have oral squamous papilloma growing in your mouth.

Unintentional damage

Unintentional damage can cause bumps or lumps to appear for short periods of time. For example, burns from hot food or drinks can form blisters almost anywhere inside the mouth. Accidental cuts or puncture wounds from utensils or hard crunchy foods will often swell and can feel like a lump. Sharp or small food particles can get wedged under the gumline and between teeth causing irritation and lumps to form along the irritated gumline. Scar tissue can form because of poor fitting dentures that also often feels like a lump or bump on the roof of the mouth and elsewhere. Most injuries or unintentional damage heals quickly, within a few days of occurrence but rinsing with salt water can speed up recovery time. See your dentist or doctor if your concerned about any injury to your mouth or teeth.


Hyperdontia is another word for having too many teeth. If you have this it usually takes place on the roof of your mouth, behind your front teeth. If you feel a lump there, it could be caused by an extra tooth erupting. This is rare but it does occur in .1% to 3.8% of the population depending on what country you are from. This type of lump in the roof of the mouth is usually first felt as facial pain, jaw pain, or causes frequent headaches. Regular checkups using Xray’s can catch Hyperdontia early and your dentist can usually remove the extra teeth without much trouble. Learn more about Hyperdontia.

Oral cancer

Oral cancer (or mouth cancer) is cancer that forms in any part of the mouth (oral cavity). Mouth cancer can develop on lips, gums, the tongue, inner cheeks, upper pallet or under the tongue. Cancer inside of the mouth is sometimes called oral cancer.

Symptoms can include:

  • A persistent lip or mouth sore
  • A white or reddish patch inside your mouth
  • A growth or lump inside your mouth
  • Loose teeth
  • Pain inside your mouth
  • Pain in one or both ears
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Sour throat

If you have any or several symptoms especially if they last 2 weeks or more see your doctor or dentist. Don’t panic, cancer is not the most common cause of some of the above-mentioned symptoms so your doctor will probably investigate other causes first. But with any cancer it is better to diagnose it sooner than later.

Most Bumps on the Roof of Your Mouth Are Ok!

As you have read, there are many reasons for a bump or lump to form on the roof of your mouth. Most times, finding one isn’t something you should worry excessively about. You should discuss it with Dr. Mathews or Dr. McIntosh if you notice it’s not healing or if you have been in consistent pain for days. If you have any trouble breathing or swallowing, see your doctor immediately.

At Erbsville Dental clients are fortunate to have at their disposal an in-clinic Maxillofacial Surgeon with decades of experience in Dr. John McIntosh.

This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Accordingly, always seek the advice of your Dentist or other healthcare providers regarding a dental condition or treatment.