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Mandibular tori are bony growths. They usually form inside the lower jaw bone or mandible in the premolar and molar regions. They are benign (non-cancerous and harmless).1
Dental tori — or torus if it's a single bump — are small bumps of bone covered by normal gum tissue. The most common type is torus palatinus or palatal tori. These are bony growths on the roof of the mouth (palate). They affect around 1 in 5 people in the United States.2
Developing a mandibular torus is less common. The condition only affects around 1 in 25 people. Most people with mandibular tori have them on each side of the jaw.
Mandibular tori are slow-growing, can vary in size, and some people may have multiple growths. They tend to develop in people in their 40s or older.
Mandibular tori are not harmful or malignant, but they can cause discomfort. They can also make wearing dentures or other dental appliances difficult.3
Generally, treatment is unnecessary, but in some cases, a dental professional might recommend surgery to remove the bony growth.
The exact cause of mandibular tori is unknown. Several factors are likely involved in their development, including:2
Genetics is the most likely cause of mandibular tori, as they seem to run in families. Researchers investigated this hypothesis by studying identical and non-identical (fraternal) twins.
Among the 81 sets of twins they recruited, almost 57% had mandibular tori. In the identical twins, almost 94% of the tori affected both or neither twin. In the non-identical twins, this number fell just below 80%. These results indicate a strong genetic link.4
Mandibular tori are also more common in certain groups of people, including Inuit, Norwegian, Thai, and Indigenous American descents. They can also affect people with certain genetic conditions, such as Turner syndrome.
A person's sex may also play a role, but experts are unclear. Some sources state that mandibular tori are more common in men, while others report the opposite.2, 5
Other potential causes of mandibular tori include:
Most people with a mandibular torus do not experience symptoms apart from the physical growths. Therefore, they are usually discovered during a routine dental exam.3
In some cases, mandibular tori can cause problems, such as:
See a dentist or doctor if you notice any growths or abnormalities in your mouth. This is particularly important if they are causing symptoms such as pain or difficulty wearing dental appliances.
According to Dr. Nandita Lilly, one of NewMouth’s in-house dentists, “people with a history of tori should see a doctor if the bony growths change shape, size, color or if new growths are observed.”
A physical exam and dental X-rays can help a dentist diagnose a mandibular torus and rule out other conditions.
If you are experiencing symptoms, the dentist may refer you to an oral surgeon for treatment.
Most people don't require treatment for mandibular tori. This is because the bone growth is not cancerous and may gradually shrink over time.
In some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove the growths if they are causing problems. This is especially true if they:
Mandibular tori are usually discovered during a routine dental exam. Your dentist must differentiate them from other types of oral growths. This is particularly true if you have a single bony growth on one side of the lower jaw.
Other potential causes of oral growths include:2
Your dentist can typically identify oral tori by their physical appearance. They may alternatively recommend a biopsy to rule out other conditions.
A biopsy involves taking a small tissue sample from the growth and examining it under a microscope. This can help identify benign or malignant (cancerous) growths.
They may also order imaging tests, such as X-rays and CT scans, to further evaluate the growths and rule out other causes.
Although usually unnecessary, sometimes removing the tori is the best way to manage symptoms and improve function.6
Surgical removal is typically an outpatient procedure, meaning you won't need to stay in the hospital overnight. It's usually done under local anesthesia, which numbs the treatment area. You may also receive sedation to help you relax.
If your surgeon recommends general anesthesia, which puts you to sleep during surgery, you'll probably need to stay in the hospital overnight for observation.
During surgery, the oral surgeon makes an incision in the gum tissue to expose the tori. They then carefully remove the growths using a surgical saw or another cutting tool.
Sometimes, they might need to remove part of the jaw bone. A bone graft may also be necessary to rebuild the area where they removed the dental tori. After the procedure, the surgeon closes the incision with stitches.
After surgery, you'll likely experience swelling, bruising, and discomfort around your lower jaw. Your surgeon will provide instructions on managing pain and care for your oral cavity as it heals.
You'll need to take it easy the first few days after surgery and eat soft foods while your mouth heals. Recovery typically takes several weeks.
As with any surgery or dental treatment, there is a risk of complications, such as:7
Your oral surgeon will review potential risks and complications of surgical removal with you before the procedure. This is an opportunity to ask questions or express concern. You can then make an informed decision about whether surgery is right for you.
To reduce your risk of complications, follow your surgeon's instructions before and after surgery. Take any medications as prescribed and avoid smoking, which can delay healing.
There's no way to prevent dental tori from developing. However, seeing your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and checkups can help them identify early oral growths. It also allows them to monitor any existing growths for changes.
You may be able to prevent mandibular tori if tooth grinding (bruxism) is the underlying cause. Your dentist can provide a mouthguard to wear at night and protect your teeth from grinding. Trying relaxation techniques, such as yoga or meditation, may help if bruxism is due to stress.
Likewise, if nutrient deficiencies or excesses are to blame, changing your diet may help. Your doctor can diagnose any underlying nutritional problems and make dietary recommendations. This may involve taking supplements or eating more foods rich in certain vitamins.
If the tissue covering the dental tori becomes injured, you must keep it clean to prevent infection.
Brushing twice a day and flossing daily can help remove plaque and bacteria from around the growths. Your dentist may also recommend using an antiseptic mouthwash to reduce the likelihood of infection.
Mandibular tori are bony growths that can develop inside the lower jaw, under the tongue. They're usually non-cancerous and don't cause symptoms. In some cases, however, they can interfere with eating, speaking, or wearing dentures.
If you have mandibular tori, your dentist may recommend removing them surgically. The procedure is typically outpatient and occurs under local anesthesia. Recovery takes several weeks.
There's no way to prevent dental tori from developing. However, regularly seeing your dentist can help them identify growths early. You may also be able to prevent them by treating underlying conditions, such as bruxism or nutritional deficiencies.
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