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Mouth Diseases

Hard, painful bumps in mouth after eating

10/31/2007

Question:

I`ve been getting small, hard, painful bumps in my mouth since I was a kid. They occur only after eating something and (usually) last only a period of a couple hours. I used to only get one on the back roof of my mouth occasionally when I was younger, but it seems like the past couple years, I have been getting more, appearing in places on the inside of my cheeks as well as the roof of my mouth. They never split open (even when I tongue them or use my toothbrush on them) and they don`t seem to change with diet or have any correlation with specific foods I eat.

Can you direct me to probable causes, so that I can decide whether I should go to a doctor for treatment? Thank you.

Answer:

What you describe sounds related to the small spit glands (minor salivary glands) that are found on the back of the roof of the mouth, as well as the cheeks, lips and under the tongue. When you eat, the saliva flow increases to help lubricate and swallow food. In some people, the flow may come so fast that it causes a bulge or swelling of the tube that carries the spit through the skin and into the mouth. In other people, a small bit of this spit may spill out under the skin resulting in a similar bump when you feel the area with your tongue or look in the mirror.

If these bumps persisted, their formal names would be mucus duct cyst or mucocele. Additional information on mucocele will be provided. In your case, it is more likely that you experience transient ectasia (widening) of the spit tube (duct) or minor, superficial spit leakage (superficial mucocele). Since you can’t break these down with a toothbrush, I would favor the ductal ectasia or swelling.

If you decide to see a doctor, I would recommend a specialist such as an oral and maxillofacial pathologist or surgeon. Although your condition is obviously benign, and there may not be any good form of treatment, sometimes it is just nice to know exactly what you have. Or don’t have.

Good luck!

Related Resources:

Mucocele

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Response by:

John R Kalmar, DMD, PhD John R Kalmar, DMD, PhD
Clinical Professor of Pathology
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University