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Bony structures in your mouth

Incisive Bite

by Dr Sharon Robinson

Sunday, October 01, 2017

AT some point in time we all stand in front of the mirror and take a close look at ourselves, so it's no surprise if you take time to observe your mouth one day.

Some of us like to ensure our teeth look clean and white, while others search to ensure that there is nothing wrong. Have you ever looked at your mouth, especially near your gum line, and found what looks to be bony growths or feel any hard bumps?

There is no need to worry. These bumps are most likely harmless growths of extra bones called tori.

Tori (or torus if it is a single bump) are harmless growths of bone within the mouth. They are simply defined as hills of bone covered by normal gum tissue and are considered to be ordinary and completely healthy.

They can present on one side of the mouth, but are most likely to be found bilaterally. Three places patients are most likely to have them are: mandibular lingual tori, which are located on the tongue side of the lower jaw; maxillary tori, which are found on the roof of the mouth and are also called tori palatini; and the cheek side of upper molars, also known as buccal exostoses.

Where do they come from?

Tori are slow-growing and can vary in size. Many people have them in their mouth but do not even realise they are there until they are examined and pointed out by a dental professional.

Tori appear to be ethnically and genetically related, and are more common in males. Some dental professionals theorise that patients who clench their jaw and grind their teeth have a higher incidence of tori. Others state injuries or trauma to the face and jaw create a greater incidence of tori.

How are they treated?

Most of the time tori do not interfere with daily eating, drinking or speaking. Dental professionals generally monitor the size and shape of tori, but do not recommend treatment of the areas unless they begin to interfere with routine oral home care or basic daily functions.

In the event that tori grow to a point where they touch in the middle of the mouth, or the patient needs braces or a removable denture, a dental professional may recommend the removal of tori.

The process of tori removal is done through outpatient surgery in the dental setting.

Can they be painful?

Sometimes bony growths of tori can become inflamed if a patient scrapes the tori when eating, or a dental professional may abrade a tori when taking dental X-rays. In this instance, it is important to keep the injured area clean to decrease bacterial counts while the area is healing.

When patients notice a torus, they may be concerned that it is a sign of oral cancer. Tori are not cancerous, nor do they evolve into cancer. If you notice any suspicious or concerning areas in your mouth, it is best to refer your question to a dental professional.


Dr Sharon Robinson DDS has offices at the Dental Place Cosmetix Spa, located at Shop #5, Winchester Business Centre, 15 Hope Road, Kingston 10. Dr Robinson is an adjunct lecturer at the University of Technology, Jamaica, School of Oral Health Sciences. She may be contacted at 630-4710. Like their Facebook page, Dental Place Cosmetix Spa, for an opportunity to take advantage of weekly specials.