What Causes Mandibular Tori and How to Treat It
When moving your tongue around the inside of your mouth, you may have come across a hard bump on the inside of the lower jaw. In most incidences these bumps are benign growths called mandibular tori.
They are fairly common, affecting around 6% of the US population. However, for peace of mind it is always best to have them checked out by a dentist.
What Are Mandibular Tori?
Benign growths found in the lower gums or on the roof of the mouth are called dental tori. Those located on the inside of the lower jaw are mandibular tori. They will feel like hardened bumps when you run your tongue over them, but are generally harmless. A tori is a growth of extra bone, which often appears towards the end of the teenage years.
Most tori grow slowly to a certain size before they stop growing. Their size can vary, but generally they will not create any practical issues or impact on your smile. However, a particularly large dental tori can become uncomfortable and may affect eating and speaking. Some people can also have more than one tori.
What Are the Signs of a Mandibular Tori
The main sign is the presence of an alien, hard bump on the inside of the lower jaw. These bone growths can vary in size and shape. One person could have a nodular tori while another person has a flatter shaped tori.
The first time you may be aware you have a tori is following a dental appointment. A tori is a benign growth which will not evolve into cancer. However, if you detect any changes in your mouth you should always have them evaluated by a dentist.
Most people will not experience any symptoms other than the bump on the inside of the lower jaw. However, in some cases an oral tori can have more problematic symptoms. These include:
- Sore jaw
- Gum irritation or inflammation
- Loose teeth
- Slurred speech
- Pain in the throat
The Causes of Oral Tori
There are a number of potential factors at play that could lead to the growth of a mandibular tori. As a tori can be more common in early adulthood, the excess bone growth could result from stresses on the jaw. Our jaws are fully developed by our late teen years, and this is when a tori often stops growing.
Another condition which places stress on the jaw is teeth grinding. Also called bruxism, someone who grinds their teeth could be more likely to develop a tori in their mouth due to the additional stress it places on the jawbone. Similarly, any trauma or injury suffered to the inside of the mouth could increase the chance of developing a mandibular tori.
Genetics is also another possible contributing factor, which may see the presence of oral tori run in families. A tori tends to affect men more than women too. Lifestyle factors may also play a role, for example if your diet is vitamin deficient.
Does a Mandibular Tori Need Removing?
Your dentist will not recommend removing a dental tori that isn’t causing you any discomfort or interfering with your chewing or speaking. They will continue to monitor it, but generally a tori does not require any treatment.
However, if a tori is causing speech or eating difficulties then you may be advised to have it removed. A large tori can also be a problem if you require orthodontics as they can make the placement of braces difficult. You could also find your braces irritate the gums more when settled over an oral tori.
A large tori can also impact on your oral health as it might trap food that is hard to remove. This places you at an increased risk of developing gum disease. A large tori can also be prone to scraping, opening up the gum and making the area prone to an infection.
Another condition, a large tori could affect is sleep apnea. Similar to having large tonsils or tongue, a large tori could further obstruct the flow of air through the airways. This could contribute to the breathing problems and snoring associated with sleep apnea. Removing the tori could help with the success of your sleep apnea treatment.
Removing Dental Tori
If you have a tori which requires removing for any reason, it will need to be surgically removed. Fortunately, the process is straightforward in most cases. An incision is made in the gum tissue overlying the tori to expose the excess bone growth. The bone is then shaved back until smooth, before sutures are applied to close the incision.
This surgical procedure may be completed within just a single hour. The area around the removed tori can take around six to eight weeks to heal. You can expect some swelling for the first week following surgery, but over-the-counter pain relief should be enough to reduce any discomfort.
If over-the-counter pain relief is insufficient for the pain following surgery, you may be prescribed a stronger medication. As such medication can make you drowsy you won’t be able to operate heavy machinery. However, most people will not require prescribed pain relief.
You will be prescribed antibiotics following the surgery. It is important to complete the course of any prescribed medication, as this will hasten recovery time. You will also want to concentrate on eating soft foods while the area where the dental tori was removed heals.
Another useful tip to help the healing process is to rinse the mouth with warm salt water. It is also important to maintain a good oral health routine, but brush your teeth carefully while the gums heal.
To re-cap, a mandibular tori is a benign growth of excess bone which usually does not require removing. However, a tori which affects your oral health or makes it difficult to eat or speak will need to be surgically removed.