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What Does a Bump on the Roof of Your Mouth Mean?

A small, sometimes slightly painful, bump on the roof of your mouth is generally harmless and clears up within a week or so. But in rare cases, it might be a sign of a serious condition. So why does the roof of your mouth hurt?

A woman having a bump on the roof of her mouth

The potential reasons behind roof of the mouth soreness vary, but the number one question is whether it’ll require medical attention. Read on to find out when the time is right to ask a professional.

  • Torus palatinus:

It’s a smooth, hard bump on the roof of your mouth, usually centered on the hard palate, just behind your upper front teeth. This painless growth could have been with you since birth and is only a cause for concern if it increases in size. If the bump reaches a point where it begins to feel cumbersome, you may need to have it surgically removed.

  • Canker sores:

They’re small, yellow, red, or white spots which develop on the roof of your mouth, inside your cheeks, or on your tongue. Although painful, canker sores are not contagious. There’s a difference between simple and complex canker sores. The former come from stress, tissue injury, or eating fast foods which inflame the area. The complex variety, however, could indicate an iron or vitamin deficiency created by unhealthy eating habits. Most canker sores heal themselves within a few days as long as there’s no further injury or irritation and good oral hygiene is maintained. 

  • Cold sores:

These highly contagious, fluid-filled blisters form on or around your lips, and can appear in multiple spots on the roof of your mouth. You might experience an itching, burning sensation before they burst, form a crust, and start to heal. Brought on by the herpes simplex virus, cold sores are contagious even when blisters aren’t visible. It’s spread through close contact such as touching, kissing, or oral sex. Symptoms include fevers, headaches, and muscle aches. There’s currently no cure available, but antiviral drugs (e.g., acyclovir creams and tablets) help promote healing, prevent frequent outbreaks, and alleviate certain symptoms. 

  • Epstein pearls:

Detected in roughly 60 to 85 percent of newborn babies, Epstein pearls are small, white or yellowish bumps on the roof your mouth or along your gum line. As they are harmless and tend to disappear within a week or two, no treatment is required except when they cause pain or irritability.

  • Burns:

A minor burn from scorching hot food or beverages can damage the thin, sensitive tissue lining the roof of your mouth. A fluid-filled blister develops on the injured area that will eventually shrink and heal itself. For the time being, simply stick to sipping cold drinks, practice good oral hygiene, and don’t eat any hard, crunchy, or irritating foods.

  • Trauma or injury:

The delicate mucosal tissue covering the roof of your mouth is susceptible to cuts, bruises, and other wounds that sometimes swell or form a lump. Most minor injuries repair themselves in about a week. Rinsing your mouth with warm water or diluted hydrogen peroxide speeds up the process.

  • Candidiasis:

Also known as oral thrush, it’s a fungal overgrowth which creates white, creamy lesions on the roof of your mouth, inner cheeks, and tongue. They might be accompanied by soreness, redness, bleeding, and difficulty eating or swallowing. This condition is usually seen in babies and adults with compromised immune systems. Individuals with HIV, primary immunodeficiency disorders (PID), or bronchial asthma are more prone to it. 

  • Squamous papilloma:

It’s a painless, non-cancerous growth brought on by the human papillomavirus (HPV). A white or pink fleshy mass resembling cauliflower develops on the roof of your mouth or other areas. It progresses slowly and is generally harmless, but can be surgically removed if it becomes an issue.

  • Oral cancer:

Though it’s mostly confined to the mouth or lips, in rare cases, oral cancer may attack salivary glands and produce sores on the roof of your mouth. Common symptoms include bleeding sores, sores that don’t heal, thick mucosa, white or red patches, and jaw pain. Treatment depends on its location and stage of development. If you’re a tobacco user and notice a lump or sore in your mouth, be sure to consult your doctor immediately. 

  • Other explanations:

Swelling on the roof of your mouth is occasionally a sign of electrolyte imbalance and dehydration, perhaps due to alcohol consumption. Your mouth feels dry, sore, and/or swollen. Tonsillitis has also been found to present similar symptoms. 

Oral hygiene tools

What should you do if you find a bump on the roof of your mouth? Each case is slightly different and must be handled accordingly. Aid healing by staying away from soda and other fizzy drinks, as well as spicy, crunchy foods that could worsen the irritation. Rinse with warm water and pay attention to oral hygiene. For temporary pain relief, over-the-counter medications like oral numbing gels are your best bet. 

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Consult a doctor immediately in the following situations:

  • Your sores or bumps haven’t healed after two weeks.
  • You experience consistent bleeding from the bumps.
  • The bumps make it too painful to swallow, talk, or eat.
  • The bumps changes in size or appearance. 
  • You have a serious burn injury in your mouth.
  • Your dentures no longer fit properly.

More often than not, soreness or swelling of the mouth is the result of canker sores, or minor cuts or burns. They tend to be harmless and recover on their own. But in the case of cold sores, oral thrush, or a bump accompanied by heavy tobacco use, it’s wise to see a doctor for advice.

https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/canker-sores#2

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/oral-thrush/symptoms-causes/syc-20353533

https://www.healthline.com/health/bump-on-roof-of-mouth#canker-sores

https://www.healthline.com/health/bump-on-roof-of-mouth

https://www.livestrong.com/article/186359-what-are-the-causes-of-a-growth-on-the-roof-of-the-mouth/

https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/ss/slideshow-mouth-problems

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cold-sore/symptoms-causes/syc-203710

https://www.healthline.com/health/epstein-pearls#treatment

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