January 11, 2016
Notice large, bony growths on the inner potions of your lower jaw near the back? Afraid it could be cancer or an abscess? You are likely not the only one. Many patients with mandibular tori mistake it for cancer when they first discover it. But the abnormality is not as rare as oral cancer, and is not as dangerous as it looks.
What is Mandibular Tori?
Approximately 7% to 10% of the U.S. population has this noticeable boney growth along the surface of the mandible nearest the tongue called Mandibular Tori (Torus Mandibularis). The condition often presents close to the premolars, just above where the mylohyoid muscle attaches to the mandible. It always occurs on the inner side of the patient’s lower jaw. Conversely a torus that appears on the midline of the palate is called a Torus Palatinus. In rarer causes torus can also appear on the cheek (buccal) side of both upper and lower jaws.
In 90% of cases mandibular torus (singular) or tori (plural) appear on both the right and left sides of lower jaw. The abnormality occurs spontaneously, with nothing patients can do to prevent it. Sometimes mandibular tori are large enough to touch each other at the mouth’s midline and size may fluctuate throughout the patient’s life.
What Causes Mandibular Tori?
Many professionals attribute the development of mandibular tori to several factors. However two of the most common factors include genetics (usually passed down from father to son) and the result of local stress or bruxism. Patients with crooked teeth (malocclusion) or diagnosed with temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ disorder) are also known to be more susceptible to tori. However, neither malocclusion nor TMJ disorder is a guarantee mandibular tori will appear. Professionals also note tori are more common in males, and individuals of Asian descent.
How Does the Dentist Diagnose Mandibular Tori?
To make a proper diagnosis the dentist must differentiate mandibular tori from abscess and oral cancer. As soon as the patient notices the abnormality he or she should see a dentist as soon as possible, just to rule out the risk of abscess or oral cancer. The dentist can perform x-rays, analysis, and biopsy to make the right diagnosis.
Difference Between Cancer and Abscess vs Mandibular Torus
These are the leading differences between the oral diseases:
1. Soft vs Hard: Typically oral cancer bumps and abscesses are soft, while tori are decidedly hard and boney.
2. Asymmetrical vs Symmetrical: Cancer and abscesses usually develop on one side or are larger one side and smaller on the opposing side. Generally tori are symmetrical.
3. Accompanying Symptoms vs Asymptomatic: Cancerous lesions also come with other symptoms include bright red bumps, tingling, swelling, and numbness. Rarely does mandibular tori come with any symptoms, but they might include a sore jar or irritation from food getting trapped underneath the boney growth.
Is Mandibular Tori Something to Worry About?
Usually the clinical finding of mandibular tori is not something to worry about and symptoms are hardly noticeable. The bony growths are often benign and require no necessary treatment. However, ulcers can form on the localized area because of trauma. Commonly tori make it difficult for dentists to fabricate a set of secure dentures. For these reasons, the dentist might recommend surgical removal of the boney growth.
When to Talk to the Dentist
You should see your dentist, periodontist, or oral surgeon if Torus:
What is the Procedure for Torus Removal?
Treatment for mandibular tori involves the surgical removal of both the abnormal gums and bones, performed by a maxillofacial surgeon. Depending on the location and density of bone growth, the oral surgeon can remove it whole or cut it down into smaller pieces for removal, much like wisdom tooth extraction. Once the surgeon removes tori, recurrence is rare. However, there are times when tori do return, but regrowth is often slow and harmless.
If you do have questions about a growth in your mouth, never hesitate to talk to a dentist or oral surgeon. They are trained to perform oral cancer screenings and will help you get the right treatment if necessary.