3 Common Causes For A Lump On The Roof Of Your Mouth

Waking up to realize you have one or several bumps on the roof of your mouth can be alarming; especially if the bumps are painful and keep you from being able to enjoy meals. There are many different kinds of bumps that can appear on the roof of your mouth, all with different causes. If you're trying to figure out if you should be alarmed, here are three possible explanations, causes, and treatments.


Mucocele is a harmless cyst that can form on the roof of your mouth, lips, and gums. When your saliva leaves your salivary gland, it travels through tiny ducts in your mouth. Mucocele forms when the ducts become blocked or damaged, kind of like the way a zit forms when dirt blocks your pores. Mucocele is often a dome-shaped, painless cyst that appears to be bluish or pearly. They will often dissolve on their own and require no treatment.

If your mucocele begins to increase in size, you can see a dentist to have it removed. You should never stick a needle in a cyst or try to remove it on your own. Your dentist will provide local anesthesia and use a laser or a scalpel to remove it safely. Your dentist can also use marsupialization to help a new duct form and release your saliva from your salivary gland. This process only requires one small stitch in the gland, which is removed after about a week.

Torus Palatinus

A torus palatinus is a painless bone growth on the roof of the mouth. It can be diagnosed using an x-ray, because the density of the bone will confirm the diagnosis. Torus palatinus is often genetic. A child has a 40- to nearly 65-percent chance of eventually forming one if a parent has it. Without the genetic predisposition, there is less than a 10 percent chance.

Most people will form the torus palatinus after puberty — generally closer to adulthood. Females are more likely to form one, and males are more likely to form a torus mandibularis, which is the torus palatinus' counterpart that forms in the mandible.

A torus palatinus doesn't generally require treatment. It's usually painless and won't cause any problems for you. However, it can become irritated from the skin becoming more sensitive or rubbing on foods. The only way to treat a torus palatinus is with surgery. If you wear dentures or a dental prosthesis, the bone growth might interfere. If you have one and you want it surgically removed, you can have the diagnosis verified and talk about surgery with your dentist or oral surgeon.

Oral Cancer

Oral cancer can cause bumps on the roof of your mouth. Early detection is important, because it can spread to other parts of your body, making treatment more difficult. Oral cancer often presents itself with bumps containing white or red lesions. While red lesions are much less common, they have a higher chance of becoming cancerous. Other symptoms of oral cancer include:

  • Jaw pain and swelling
  • Numbness of the tongue
  • Hoarse throat
  • Ear pain
  • Feeling like something is caught in your throat

If you have symptoms for longer than two weeks, it's important to see your dentist for a screening. However, you can go immediately if you are alarmed. Oral cancer most often presents itself in people over the age of 40, people with high sun exposure, and smokers. People who both smoke tobacco and drink alcohol pose the greatest risk.

Finding bumps and lesions on the roof of your mouth can be frightening, but they aren't always a cause for concern. While mucocele and torus palatinus can often go untreated, oral cancer needs to be detected immediately. The best thing to do is always get a lump checked no matter what you think it is. Unless your dentist confirms the diagnosis, you don't know for sure.