Weird, Bony Lumps On The Roof Of Your Mouth: What Is Torus Palatinus And Should You Be Worried?

You know you need to see your dentist when you have a toothache or a chipped or broken tooth and, of course, for your regular annual checkup, but did you know that your dentist can also diagnose a number of less-common and often downright-weird developments in your mouth? If you've discovered a strange, hard lump or two on your upper (or lower) palate, before you freak out, learn more about torus palatinus (and mandibularis) and how your dentist can help.

Identifying Torus Palatinus

Although odd in appearance and perhaps alarming when felt by the tongue, the strange nodules make diagnosing torus palatinus relatively easy. "Torus" is a geometric term, indicating the shape of an object, and "palatinus" simply identifies the location as being on the roof of your mouth. You might have a single lump or nodule, or you could have a series of two or three, having no particular pattern or uniformity. If the growth occurs on your lower palate, it's referred to as torus mandibularis, indicating placement on the mandibular (jaw) bone.

The nodules tend to be hard and located in the center portion of the upper (or lower) palate. While torus palatinus isn't dangerous, it's best to have your dentist officially diagnose your torus palatinus to make sure that it isn't another, more dangerous growth.

Understanding Why You Have It

You may have developed this bony protrusion due to something in your genes, particularly if you're a female approaching midlife or if you are of Caucasian, Asian, or European lineage. Beyond the genetics, dental trauma can also lead to torus. For example, if you frequently use the mouth pieces in whitening kits that fit over your teeth or mouth pieces in sports that push upwards on the roof of your mouth, such force could lead to the formation of these odd and annoying nodules. Also, your diet may have contributed to the odd formation on your upper palate; however, in general, the cause of the condition cannot be exactly pinpointed. 

Visiting Your Dentist For Help

Until you're sure you have torus palatinus, err on the side of caution. Place a call to your dentist right away, requesting an urgent appointment for diagnosis. Although what you have is most likely nothing to be worried about, the need to rule out more threatening conditions like oral cancer is pressing. The early stages of oral cancer generally don't produce noticeable symptoms, meaning people discover the deadly disease late into its progression, when treatment options and survival statistics are not as favorable.

Your dentist should be able to make the determination of torus palatinus with a quick peek and a few pokes and, most likely, will tell you that you have nothing to worry about. Rarely, such as in cases where dentures and other oral appliances are custom-fitted, the bony nodules require surgical removal. Other than interfering in other dental procedures, though, torus doesn't usually cause enough disruption to warrant an operation; thus, in all likelihood, you're just stuck with the oral oddity.

Living With Torus Palatinus

Although you're probably going to feel a little self-conscious about your palate defect, you should get used to it before long. Unless you are an opera singer or prone to showing off on a karaoke stage, people likely won't see the nodules. If someone happens to notice, just politely tell them it's a buccal exostosis called torus palatinus (or mandibularis) and that it's harmless. They won't be able to reproduce the words, and they'll be really impressed with your vocabulary. Because the bony lumps are barely noticeable, it's not worth your constant worry or feeling any less gorgeous than you are.