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Dental and Oral Health (Adults)

Excessive jawbone growth



I had a different hygienist at the dentist last week, and she said I better hope I never need a bridge or denture because I have a lot of excess bone in my gums. I had never noticed this before, but when I looked in the mirror I could see protrusions on my lower jaw on both sides of my mouth.

What causes this excessive bone growth? Is it true the dentist would have to remove some of this bone if I ever needed a bridge?


Excess bone growth is called an exostosis and there can be more than one. When the growth occurs on the hard palate in the roof of the mouth it is called a palataly torus and usually interferes with complete or partially removable dentures. When they occur on the inside of the lower jaw they are called mandibular tori and are usually about the same size on each side. They can interfere also with complete and partial dentures. Usually neither one interferes with a fixed bridge. Exostoses on the outside of the lower jaw (usually not on the outside of the upper jaw) may or may not interfere with a fixed bridge. These bone growths can be surgically removed - usually relatively easily by an oral surgeon or a trained general dentist or periodontist (gum surgeon).

The cause is unknown - generally considered genetic or familial, but there are no known patterns or such. It just happens to many people and is not usually a serious concern. Discuss further treatment with your dentist, but often these can go untreated very well for a lifetime unless they interfere with gum health or the fabrication of a fixed or removable prosthesis such as a bridge or full or partial denture.

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Response by:

Daniel E Jolly, BA, DDS, FAAHD, FACD, FAGD Daniel E Jolly, BA, DDS, FAAHD, FACD, FAGD
Former Professor of Clinical Dentistry
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University