What is a Palatine Torus?

Should you be concerned if you have a palatine torus? It has an ominous sounding name, but it may not be as serious as you think.

Palatine torus is the medical term for a bony, nodular prominence on the roof of the mouth. A palatine torus can look pretty scary to a person who doesn’t know what it is, but they rarely cause serious problems – and don’t become malignant.

Who’s Most Likely to Get a Palatine Torus?

Palatine tori are surprisingly common in the general population – with up to one in four people having one. They usually appear during young adulthood – in people in their twenties or thirties – and grow very slowly. Despite their slow growing nature, they sometimes become large enough to make swallowing and chewing difficult – and the placement of dentures more challenging. If they grow large enough, they can lead to sleep apnea – a condition where breathing stops for short periods of time during sleep – due to obstruction.

What Causes a Palatine Torus?

Palatine tori often run in families and there seems to be a strong genetic predisposition for these bony growths. There’s also some thought that eating hard foods can damage the roof of the mouth and lead to the growth of a palatine torus.

How Do You Know if You Have One?

Palatine tori are usually quite visible as a hard nodule or group of nodules on the roof of the mouth along the midline. If you have what you suspect is a palatine torus, it’s best to get it checked out by a doctor – just to be sure – since malignant tumors of the palate can look similar in some cases.

Does Palatine Tori Need Treatment?

The only cases in which a palatine torus requires treatment is if it becomes large enough that it interferes with normal mouth function, becomes ulcerated, or leads to sleep apnea. In these situations, surgery may be required. Palatine tori are painless, but they can increase the risk of gingivitis and periodontal disease since they alter the chewing motion in such a way that food is pushed against the teeth with more force.

The Bottom Line?

Palatine tori are very common and usually cause no problems unless they grow too large or become ulcerated. If you have nodules on the roof of your mouth that you think are palatine tori, let a doctor check them out – just to be sure.

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