Dear Dr. Mady: I have a large bump on the roof of my mouth that feels very abnormal but it does not hurt. I have been told that it is called a torus. What causes this and should it be removed. - Jennifer in Cottam
Dear Jennifer: A torus or tori (plural) is a benign growth of new bone that usually occurs in the mouth. In general they are slow growing and limited in size for the most part. Tori mostly develop on the palate (roof of the mouth) or on the inside (tongue side) of the lower jaw. Palatal tori are far more common and a single growth is named "torus palatinus".Race and sex tend to play a role in the development of these. Twenty to twenty-five percent of our population possess tori and twice as many females get them. Also, Canadian/American Indians and Eskimos more commonly develop tori.
Tori can form at different ages but more often begin at the onset of puberty or before thirty years of age. They can be of genetic nature (inherited) and can have occasional growth spurts and halts but generally don't shrink. Size and shape of these varies and so does the thickness of the gums that cover them. Although thinner over these areas, the tissue is still normal.
If you have a torus there is no need for removal unless they get too large or unless they are interfering with the fabrication of dentures or any other prosthesis. Also removal is indicated if they interfere with normal oral hygiene. If you are experiencing any of these, ask your dentist for a referral to see an oral surgeon for a consultation about removal.
This column is reprinted with the permission of the author and The Windsor Star. "Ask the Dentist" is written by Windsor dentist (and ECDS member), Dr. David Mady Jr.. The column appears the first Thursday of each month in the Windsor Star. Readers with questions can write to "Ask The Dentist", c/o The Windsor Star, 167 Ferry St., Windsor Ontario, N9A 4M5