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Updated on July 20, 2022

11 Causes and Treatments for a Bump on the Roof of Your Mouth

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Bump on Roof of Mouth: What Does it Mean?

Bumps on the roof of the mouth are common and develop for many reasons. Most bumps in the mouth are harmless and resolve naturally.

Sometimes bumps on the roof of the mouth can be a symptom of a more serious underlying condition that requires medical intervention.

Talk to a medical professional if a mouth bump is very painful or doesn’t heal within a few weeks.

"Many diseases can be successfully treated with early intervention. This includes visiting a dentist or medical doctor whenever something doesn't feel-this includes lumps, pain or changes in your health."

Dr. Nandita Lilly
dentist checking patients mouth

11 Possible Causes of Bumps on the Roof of Your Mouth

Several conditions can cause bumps on the roof of your mouth, most of which heal over time.

The majority of oral bumps can be a sign of minor mouth disease. But in rare cases, oral bumps can be a symptom of a serious mouth disease, such as oral cancer or strep throat.

1. Canker sores

Most canker sores are round, painful, and have a yellow or white center with a red border.

Canker sores can occur on the roof of your mouth, tongue, or the inside of your lips and cheeks. They are not contagious.  

The cause of canker sores remains unknown. But canker sores may be triggered by minor injuries and immune problems. A tingling sensation often occurs a few days before canker sores emerge.

Canker sores usually heal on their own after a week or two. Over-the-counter (OTC) numbing products or rinsing with warm salt water or baking soda can reduce canker sore pain and promote healing.

Honey can also help. Especially manuka honey, which is unpasteurized and unfiltered, and is known for its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects.14

Other home remedies include Vitamin B complex supplement, zinc lozenges, apple cider vinegar mouthwash, chamomile compress, and coconut oil.

2. Cold sores

Cold sores are painful, recurring, small, fluid-filled blisters that often appear in groups or clusters. The herpes simplex virus type 1 causes them. Unlike canker sores, cold sores are contagious.

Cold sores heal on their own in a few weeks. They are most contagious when the blisters rupture.

Prescription creams or antiviral pills help reduce the frequency and severity of cold sores and speed up the healing process.2

3. Injury

The roof of the mouth contains sensitive skin that can easily be damaged, causing bumps to develop.

Common causes of mouth injuries include:

  • Cuts
  • Minor burns or a severe burn
  • Irritation from dental devices (such as an ill-fitting denture)
  • Using tobacco products
  • Stress 
  • Hormonal changes
  • Dental work irritation

Using OTC anti-inflammatories, pain relievers, and rinsing with warm salt water can help treat mouth pain and injuries.3

4. Torus palatinus 

Torus palatinus are bony outgrowths on the roof of your mouth. Doctors aren’t sure why this condition occurs, but it’s likely connected to genetics.

Torus palatinus don’t necessarily require treatment. But bumps that interfere with swallowing, talking, or dental devices should be surgically removed.4

5. Epstein pearls

Epstein pearls, or palatal cysts, are small, white-yellowish nodules that can grow in a baby’s mouth. They occur when keratin, a type of protein, becomes trapped in the roof of the mouth. Between 60 and 85% of newborns have Epstein pearls.

Epstein pearls do not require treatment and resolve on their own within a few weeks to months.5

6. Mucoceles

An oral mucocele is a (usually) painless, round, smooth, bluish-to-clear colored, fluid filled bump. Damage to or obstruction of ducts in the salivary glands cause mucoceles. 

Mucoceles often rupture naturally and don’t require treatment. But they may require medical treatment if they are large or persistent.6

7. Squamous papilloma

Squamous papilloma causes bumps that are painless, soft, and supported by a stalk or stem. They may look like a red or pink raspberry or a white piece of cauliflower. Subtypes of the human papillomavirus (HPV) cause squamous papillomas. Most are non-cancerous.

Squamous papilloma bumps are generally not treated, but a dentist or oral surgeon can remove them if necessary.7

8. Candidiasis

Oral candidiasis, better known as oral thrush, can cause white, creamy-looking bumps on the roof of the mouth. Thrush bumps may look like cottage cheese and be painless. The sores can also be red and very sore or burning. 

Oral candidiasis is most often found amongst denture wearers, who sleep in their dentures and rarely take them out of their mouth.

The fungus Candida albicans causes oral candidiasis, and most people develop it when their immune system is weakened. Vaginal candidiasis is called a yeast infection. A doctor will prescribe an oral antifungal medication to treat it.10

9. Strep throat

People with strep throat often develop tiny, red bumps on the roof of the mouth.  A group of bacteria called Streptococcus causes strep throat, and it is very common and contagious.

Most people are prescribed antibiotics to treat strep throat.11

10. Hyperdontia

Though rare, people with hyperdontia grow too many teeth, or extra teeth, which can look like bumps on the roof of the mouth.8

Extra teeth don’t typically cause symptoms but some people experience pain.8, 9 Doctors aren’t sure what causes hyperdontia, but it probably develops due to a mix of environmental and genetic factors. 8

Extra teeth may be removed by a dentist or oral surgeon if they crowd or displace teeth or other dental devices.9

11. Oral cancer

In rare cases12, oral cancer can cause bumps on the roof of the mouth.12

Symptoms of oral cancer include:

  • A bump, hard lump, or sore that doesn’t heal
  • A white, red, or oddly shaped patch in the mouth
  • Pain or numbness
  • A bleeding sore
  • A growth or thickening of the skin in your mouth
  • Ear pain
  • Trouble chewing or swallowing
  • Neck or jaw pain or swelling

Tobacco or alcohol use are the most common causes of oral cancer. Treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.13 Treatment for oral cancer vary in regards to location and stage of the cancer.

When to Visit a Medical Professional

Bumps on the roof of the mouth don’t typically cause significant health problems. 

Talk to a medical professional if the bumps:1, 2,3, 

  • Do not heal, are severe, spread, or get worse
  • Are more than ½ inch wide
  • Impact teeth, dental devices, or the ability to eat, swallow, or talk
  • Go away and come back

Also talk to a medical professional if you have other symptoms like:1, 2, 3, 12

  • Very discolored patches or a white, red, or oddly shaped patch
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Gum pain 
  • Bleeding sores 
  • Numbness in the mouth
  • Headache
  • Face, neck, head, or jaw pain
  • Body aches 
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Rash
  • Diarrhea
  • Eye irritation
  • Painful blisters
  • A very hard lump

Diagnosis

A doctor might be able to diagnose bumps on the roof of the mouth simply by looking at them.1 They may also need to conduct further tests to make a proper diagnosis. 

Other ways to determine the underlying condition or underlying cause of mouth sores or bumps include:3, 6, 12

  • Blood tests
  • Biopsy (taking a bit of tissue from the bump)
  • Ultrasound  or other imaging tests 

Treatment

The best treatment for bumps on the roof of the mouth depends on the cause, but some options include:3, 6, 10, 11, 12

  • Prescription oral creams or steroid gels
  • Antivirals, antifungals, or antibiotics
  • Surgery
  • Laser treatments
  • Cryotherapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation

Prevention

In some cases, there is no way to prevent bumps on the roof of the mouth. 

However, some common tips for reducing the risk of developing oral bumps include: 1, 2, 3, 10, 

  • Eating a healthy, balanced diet
  • Practicing good oral hygiene habits 
  • Getting regular dental checkups
  • Avoiding spicy, salty, rough, sharp, or acidic foods
  • Reducing stress
  • Staying hydrated
  • Avoiding tobacco products and limiting alcohol consumption
  • Avoiding contact with or sharing items with people who are sick or have open sores
  • Ensuring dental devices fit well and don’t have sharp edges

Summary

Bumps in the oral cavity are very common and develop for various reasons. 

Most bumps in the mouth are not dangerous and heal naturally after a few days, weeks, or months. The risk of developing oral cancer is low. 

Talk to a medical professional, ideally a dentist, if bumps in the mouth don’t heal naturally. Also talk to a medical professional if bumps in the mouth are severe or cause other symptoms.

14 Sources Cited
Last updated on July 20, 2022
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. . Mayo Clinic. “Canker sore.” Mayo Clinic.
  2. . Mayo Clinic. “Cold sore.” Mayo Clinic.
  3. . Cleveland Clinic. “Mouth sores.” Cleveland Clinic.
  4. . Vaduganathan, M. et al. “Torus palatinus.” Baylor University medical center proceedings. 
  5. . Diaz, Laura E. et al. “Epstein pearls.” Stat pearls. 
  6. . American Osteopathic College of Dermatology. “Mucocele.” American Osteopathic College of Dermatology.
  7. . DermNet NZ. “Squamous cell papilloma.” DermNet NZ.
  8. . Nayak, Gurudutt. et al. “Paramolar- A supernumerary molar: A Case Report and Overview.” Dental research journal. 
  9. . St. Clair Health. “Hyperdontia.” St. Clair Health.
  10. .  Mayo Clinic. “Oral thrush.” Mayo Clinic.
  11. . Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Strep Throat: All You Need to Know.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  12. . American Cancer Society. “Key Statistics for Oral Cavity and Oropharyngeal Cancers.” American Cancer Society. 
  13. . Johns Hopkins Medicine. “Oral Cavity Cancer.” Johns Hopkins Medicine
  14. . El-Haddad, Sally. et al. "Efficacy of honey in comparison to topical corticosteroid for treatment of recurrent minor aphthous ulceration: a randomized, blind, controlled, parallel, double-center clinical trial." Quintessence International.
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