I bet many of you have had a mucocele and maybe didn’t know what it was, and by the time you think to figure out what it is, it’s gone! I tend to be a teeth grinder when I am stressed, much to the chagrin of my dentist, but every now and again, I will bite my inner lip, so I tend to be really sensitive to any sorts of bumps and lumps in my mouth because I usually just assumed I have done some damage during my midnight teeth mashing! Instead of the trauma caused by teeth grinding, you can get some small bumps on the tissues in your mouth that are little fluid filled bumps that may be a little painful, but more annoying than anything else, and that, my friend, is a mucocele!
What exactly is a mucocele?
Mucoceles are painless thin little cysts (fluid filled sacs which has clear fluid once popped but can look almost bluish inside your mouth) usually on the inside of the lips and/or cheeks, and are quite common. The can also occur on the roof of the mouth, the tongue, or on your gums. They can vary in size, and the larger they are, the more annoying they can be, but they usually do not cause any pain, but they can just be irritating depending where they are (especially if on the tongue). They are thought to occur due to sucking the tissue from your lips/cheeks between the spaces of your teeth (it’s a working theory), so the size of the mucocele would depend on the size of the space between your teeth. Although, they are especially common around an sort of oral piercing sites, so I am not sure how that works with the teeth sucking theory!
How are they diagnosed and treated?
The good news is that Healthcare Practitioners (HCPs) can just visualize it to diagnose it, and once we diagnose it, I am sure you will recognize it in the future (to save yourself a co-pay and trip to the HCPs office!) That being said, sometimes they become large and will keep coming back, which would require them to be removed by an oral surgeon or a dentist (depending on size, placement, and their level of comfort). Often, smaller mucoceles will just rupture on their own, spontaneously, and then not come back. If they are big and causing a lot of irritation, an HCP may have to rupture it for you using a sterile needle (which sounds painful, but it’s not.) I do not suggest rupturing them with any sort of sharp object on your own, as you risk an infection….and oral infections are neither fun, nor easy to treat!
How can I prevent them?
There’s nothing you can do other than remove oral piercings that you may have that there are commonly mucoceles around, and trying not to suck on your teeth. I am not sure if people really intend to suck on their teeth, I don’t think it’s a conscious thing….but if you do, try to stop!
The important things to know is that they are common, and if they become uncomfortable go to see your HCP to get them removed. They are in no way detrimental to your health, but to make sure that if they do need to be ruptured or removed it is done under the care of an HCP to make sure it is as clean as possible and prevent the risk of infection. So, next time you might feel a little annoying bump in your mouth, you have a little more insight as to what it is!!
Yours in Good Health