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Bumps on the roof of the mouth are most commonly canker sores, cold sores, or cysts. They are typically harmless and resolve on their own.
However, some bumps on the roof of the mouth can be a symptom of a more serious underlying condition that requires medical intervention.
Talk to a doctor if a mouth bump is painful, bleeding, or doesn’t heal within a few weeks.
Most of the time, a bump on the roof of your mouth will go away on its own. However, you should talk to your doctor if:,7
You should always consult your doctor if you have any concerns about a bump in 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.
Canker sores can occur on the roof of your mouth, tongue, or the inside of your lips and cheeks. Most canker sores are round, painful, and have a yellow or white center with a red border. They are not contagious.
It’s not always clear what causes canker sores, though minor injuries and immune problems may trigger them. You may feel a tingling sensation a few days before a canker sore emerges.
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. Try applying manuka honey, which is unpasteurized, unfiltered, and known for its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects, directly to the canker sore.9
Other home remedies include Vitamin B complex supplements, zinc lozenges, chamomile compresses, and coconut oil.
Cold sores are small, fluid-filled blisters that often appear in groups or clusters. They are painful and may recur multiple times.
The herpes simplex virus causes cold sores. Unlike canker sores, cold sores are contagious, especially when the blisters rupture.
Cold sores heal on their own in a few weeks. Prescription creams or antiviral pills can help reduce the frequency and severity of cold sores and speed up healing.
Nasopalatine duct cysts appear at the roof of your mouth, behind your front teeth. They may not cause any symptoms unless they become infected, which can cause swelling, drainage, and pain.
A nasopalatine duct cyst may not require treatment unless it’s infected or starts to bother you. An oral surgeon can surgically remove the cyst for you in those cases.
Torus palatinus is a bony growth on the roof of your mouth. It’s not usually painful and isn’t a sign of an underlying disease.
Doctors aren’t sure why torus palatinus occurs, but it’s likely connected to genetics. Some people are born with it, but others may develop it later.
Torus palatinus doesn’t necessarily require treatment. You can have it surgically removed if it’s uncomfortable or interferes with swallowing, talking, or dental appliances.1
The roof of the mouth contains sensitive skin that can easily be damaged, causing bumps to develop.
Common causes of mouth injuries include:
Using OTC anti-inflammatories, pain relievers, and rinsing with warm salt water can help treat mouth pain and injuries.
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.
They are harmless and very common. Between 60 and 85% of newborns have Epstein pearls.2
Epstein pearls do not require treatment and resolve on their own within a few weeks to months.2
An oral mucocele is a round, smooth, fluid-filled bump. It is typically painless and bluish or clear in color.
Damage to or obstruction of ducts in the salivary glands can cause mucoceles to form.
Mucoceles often rupture naturally and don’t require treatment. However, they may require medical treatment if they are large or bothersome.3
Squamous papilloma is a painless, soft bump emerging from a stalk or stem. It can resemble 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 generally doesn’t require treatment. A dentist or oral surgeon can surgically remove it if it bothers you.4
Oral candidiasis, better known as oral thrush, can cause white, creamy-looking bumps on the roof of the mouth.
Oral thrush may resemble cottage cheese and be painless. The sores can also have a red hue and cause soreness or burning.
Oral candidiasis is most often found in those with weakened immune systems and denture wearers who sleep in their dentures and rarely take them out.
The fungus Candida albicans causes oral candidiasis, so oral antifungal medication is used to treat it.
People with strep throat often develop tiny, red bumps on the roof of the mouth. A group of bacteria called Streptococcus causes strep throat, which is very common and contagious.
Most people are prescribed antibiotics to treat strep throat.6
Hyperdontia is a rare condition that causes a person to grow extra teeth, which can look like bumps on the roof of the mouth.5 Extra teeth don’t typically cause symptoms, but some people may experience pain.5
Doctors aren’t sure what causes hyperdontia, but it probably develops due to environmental and genetic factors.5
Impacted teeth, such as the canines, that are having a hard time erupting can also cause bumps on the roof of the mouth.
A dentist or an oral surgeon can remove the extra teeth if they crowd or displace the other teeth or dental appliances.
Impacted teeth can be guided into the correct position with a combination of orthodontics and surgery.
In rare cases, oral cancer can cause bumps on the roof of the mouth.7
Symptoms of oral cancer include:
Tobacco and alcohol use are the most common causes of oral cancer.
Oral cancer requires immediate, intensive treatment that varies depending on the type, location, and stage of cancer.
Common treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.8
A doctor might be able to diagnose bumps on the roof of the mouth by simply examining them. However, 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, 7
In some cases, you can’t prevent bumps from developing on the roof of the mouth. They may occur and resolve naturally.
However, some tips for reducing the risk of developing oral bumps include:
A bump on the roof of your mouth is usually no cause for concern. It’ll typically heal on its own within days or weeks.
If you have an underlying condition, the outlook depends on what it is and your course of treatment. Usually, any bumps or sores will heal after a few weeks or months of treatment.
If it’s something more serious, like oral cancer, it may take longer.
Bumps on the roof of your mouth are usually benign and will heal on their own within a few days or weeks. The most common causes of oral bumps are canker sores, cold sores, and cysts. In rare cases, the bumps may be caused by something more severe, such as oral cancer.
Talk to your dentist if bumps in the mouth don’t heal naturally, cause pain, or start to bleed. You should also consult your doctor if you have other symptoms that occur when you develop oral bumps.
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