What Are Oral Tori?

What Are Oral Tori?

If you slide your tongue to the roof of your mouth or around the lower gums, do you feel any hard bumps? If so, there is no reason for alarm. You have oral tori —which Colgate defines as “… harmless growths of extra bone … Emphasis on the word ‘harmless.’ Dental tori are simply tiny hills of bone covered by normal gum tissue.

This condition is benign (non-cancerous), but may cause concern when first noticed. However, we always advise scheduling an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible if you see any sudden changes in your gum or mouth tissues. It’s better to have a confirmation of oral tori than risk a much more serious condition. As April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, we encourage you to learn more about symptoms and the importance of early detection in our blog post on this life-threatening illness.

Although oral tori (the plural form of the singular torus) are harmless in and of themselves, they can cause challenges for personal oral hygiene, dental care and fittings for braces and dentures. Tori grow slowly over time, then stop growing. They do not shrink or disappear on their own. Learning about oral tori can help you understand this condition, as well as to modify your oral care accordingly and become familiar with possible adjustments your dental professional may need to make for certain types of treatment — or if surgical removal is recommended.

Types of Oral Tori

There are two common types of tori: mandibular and palatal. Mandibular tori — or mandibular torus if it’s a single bump — show up in the lower jawbone. According to Cleveland Clinic, about six percent of the U.S. population experience this condition. Torus mandibularis also tend to be bilateral. Approximately 80 percent of people with these growths will have them on both the right and left sides of their mouth. This type of tori is more common in males.

Palatal tori is a bony growth that manifests in the palate (the roof of the mouth). It is commonly known as torus palatinus, and occurs in about 20 percent of the U.S. population. The American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery notes that it commonly occurs in early adulthood, more often in women.

There is a third type of dental tori — buccal exostoses — which occur on the outside area of the upper or lower jaw ridge in the mouth.

Causes of Tori Growth

No single cause for oral tori has been identified. According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, a combination of several factors can lead to the formation of oral tori. Some of the primary causes include the following:

  • Teeth grinding (bruxism): If you grind or clench your teeth constantly, you may be more likely to develop mandibular tori.
  • Vitamin deficiencies: Some studies indicate that a lack of certain vitamins can cause you to develop tori.
  • Genetics: If you have a family history of oral tori, then you are more likely to develop it. Tori are more commonly found in men, and it is reported that the genetic predisposition may pass from father to son.
  • Bone density: People with higher bone density or who experience a substantial change in bone density may be more exposed to developing mandibular tori.
  • Mouth anatomy: Your jaw shape — as well as the way your teeth fit together — can have an effect on the presence of dental tori.
  • Age: People over the age of 30 are more inclined to develop mandibular tori.

Dental Issues That Tori Can Create

Because dental tori tend to continue to grow over time, they have the potential to cause pain or discomfort if they become too large. Also, the soft tissue covering the tori is fragile, making them further susceptible to scrapes — which can lead to infection. In the event of scraped tori, decrease bacteria in your mouth while the area heals. This can be done by cleansing the injured area with a germ-killing fluoride toothpaste or rinse.

According to Willow Glen Dental Specialists, for individuals who wear dentures, tori may obstruct the plates from resting comfortably and evenly along the gumline. The patient may have a very difficult time getting the denture to stay in place, especially when eating.

Large mandibular tori can make it difficult for people to brush their teeth properly, thereby increasing the risk of tooth decay. Moreover, they can interfere with the efforts of your dentist to take dental X-rays.

In fact, if your mandibular tori become large enough, they can obstruct the movement of your tongue and impact your speech, as well your ability to chew and swallow food. However, as mandibular and other types of tori usually grow very slowly, this allows you and your dentist to explore different treatment options and see which one suits the situation best.

Other issues can include:

Poor oral hygiene — Tori that develop your teeth may make it hard for you to brush and floss properly. This can lead to a buildup of harmful bacteria and dental plaque. Your dentist will advise you on how to clean your teeth to ensure you reach difficult-to-access areas to minimize plaque build-up.

Speech issues — Mandibular tori can interfere with speech, which can negatively impact your personal and professional life.

Pain or discomfort — If the growth of your mandibular tori is very large, it may prohibit you from closing your mouth entirely. The tissue covering the bony growths of the tori may also easily become inflamed or irritated — especially if you wear mouth guards, dentures, or other oral appliances.

Do Tori Need to be Treated or Removed?

Since oral tori usually doesn’t interfere with your daily drinking, eating, or speaking, dentists typically don’t recommend treatment. Your dentist will monitor them during your regular six-month examinations. However, treatment may recommended if the tori:

  • Become inflamed when scraped while having dental X-rays, eating, or any other activities.
  • Grow to a height wherein they touch in the middle of your mouth.
  • Begin to interfere with your basic daily functions such as speaking and eating or with your routine oral hygiene care.
  • Hinder the placement of a prosthesis such as a crown, dentures, etc., or braces.
  • Cause any other oral health problem.

For cases such as the above, your dentist may recommend surgery to remove the tori, and refer you to an oral and maxillofacial surgeon (OMS). This is an outpatient procedure usually performed using local anesthesia.

The Take-Home Message

The good news about oral tori is that these benign bony growths do not become cancerous. As we’ve covered, however, they can be an obstacle to good oral hygiene practices and dental treatment. And, if they grow large enough, oral tori can interfere with speaking and other important functions. Your dentist will determine if removal is necessary.

No matter what the treatment recommendation, it is our mission at NK Family Dental to provide the highest quality and most compassionate oral care to our Chicago patients, including dental and periodontal services. Our practice is trusted for advanced oral surgery procedures and comfortable root canal treatment.

Our team of experienced, dedicated dental professionals will help address your oral health concerns, and determine the best solution for you based on your individual situation. We strive to identify treatment options that fit your needs. Our dental specialists include our general dentist, Dr. Nilofer Khan, our endodontist, Dr. Sabek, and our periodontist, Dr. Amir Danesh. Dr. Danesh is a board-certified periodontist and Diplomat of the American Board of Periodontology. He has contributed to the publication of two books, as well as published over 20 papers in prestigious dental research journals.

We serve the neighborhoods of Logan Square, Bucktown, Humboldt Park, and Wicker Park with the dedication that’s earned us the reputation as the Best Dentist in Chicago!

We understand that the main concern you may have is cost, which is why we accept all major PPO plans for dental insurance and also offer our in-house dental plan. Please see our financing page for more information.

Schedule your visit through ZocDoc, or contact us directly. We look forward to treating you soon!


Leave a Reply