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Updated on October 10, 2022

What Are Mandibular Tori?

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What are Mandibular Tori?

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.

Are Mandibular Tori Harmful?

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.

What Causes Mandibular Tori?

The exact cause of mandibular tori is unknown. Several factors are likely involved in their development, including:2

Family History and Genetics

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 Gender

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 Causes 

Other potential causes of mandibular tori include:

  • Trauma
  • Teeth grinding (bruxism)
  • Vitamin deficiencies
  • Calcium-rich diet
  • Fish consumption
  • Chewing on dry, raw, or frozen meat
  • Bone mineral density

Symptoms of Mandibular Tori

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:

  • Interfering with denture placement 
  • Mouth sores and ulcers
  • Gum irritation
  • Tenderness or pain when the area is touched
  • Food getting stuck around the growths

When to See a Dentist

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.

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How is Mandibular Tori Treated?

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:

  • Become inflamed, injured, or infected
  • Interfere with eating or speaking by restricting tongue movement
  • Affect routine oral care by making it difficult to brush nearby teeth
  • Prevent dental professionals from taking X-rays
  • Make it difficult to wear dentures or another dental prosthesis
  • Become large and begin to touch in the middle of the mouth
  • Cause other oral health problems

Diagnosis

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

  • Peripheral ossifying fibroma — benign gum swelling
  • Mucoceles — cyst-like growth that can form after salivary gland trauma or surgery
  • Benign bone tumors — include osteoma, osteochondroma, osteoblastoma, and osteoid osteoma
  • Cancerous tumors — including osteosarcoma

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.

Tori Removal

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

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.

Potential Complications

As with any surgery or dental treatment, there is a risk of complications, such as:7

  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Damage to teeth, nerves, or other structures in the mouth
  • Numbness in the lip or chin
  • Jaw stiffness or limitation in movement
  • Scarring
  • Anesthesia complications

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.

Can You Prevent Mandibular Tori?

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.

Mouthguards

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.

Diet Changes

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. 

Good Oral Hygiene

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.

Summary

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.

7 Sources Cited
Last updated on October 10, 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. Low, C. M., et al. "Mandibular Tori Limiting Treatment of Carcinoma of the Upper Aerodigestive Tract." Clinical Medicine Insights Case Reports, 2019.
  2. "Bony Bumps in the Mouth." Cleveland Clinic, 2017.
  3. Unterman, S., et al. "Torus Mandibularis." Western Journal of Emergency Medicine, 2010.
  4. Auškalnis, A., et al. “Multifactorial etiology of Torus mandibularis:study of twins.” Stomatologija, Baltic Dental and Maxillofacial Journal, 2015.
  5. Mermod, M., et al. "Mandibular tori." Canadian Medical Association Journal, 2015.
  6. Loukas, M., et al. "The tori of the mouth and ear: a review." Clinical Anatomy, 2013.
  7. Dallaserra, M., et al. "Infectious postoperative complications in oral surgery. An observational study." Journal of Clinical and Experimental Dentistry, 2020.
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