Oral mucoceles are often alarming to patients, but as far as oral lesions go, they are one of the most benign and least worrisome that we see in our office.
These lesions are very often completely painless, and while we encourage patients to report any unknown swellings or lesions in their mouth to their dentist or doctor, there is very little cause for concern in this case.
Who Gets Oral Mucoceles?
Anyone can get an oral mucocele, and they are most common on the lower lip, but they can occur anywhere where there is a salivary gland in the mouth.
What Causes Mucoceles?
There are a number of reasons why oral mucoceles occur, but the most common cause is trauma to the tissue in the mouth, which results in a blockage in a salivary duct. This blockage causes a buildup in the duct, which manifests as a mucocele.
Another common cause of oral mucoceles is when the trauma, instead of causing a blockage, redirects the mucosal secretions from the glands into the surrounding tissue, which also results in the type of lump we categorize as a mucocele.
How Is an Oral Mucocele Identified?
Even though mucoceles are harmless, it’s important that patients always seek a diagnosis, to ensure that this is what they are dealing with rather than something more worrisome.
Mucoceles are typically painless, and they are usually small and soft, although some can get as large as four centimeters. They can be red, white or clear, and they could develop on any of the soft tissues in the mouth.
Sometimes, mucoceles can appear to be something else, like a hemangioma. In this case, gentle pressure on the area of the cyst will cause it to change color. Mucoceles, however, will remain mostly the same color in spite of pressure.
In some cases, the best treatment for an oral mucocele is the “wait and see” approach. If there is no pain and discomfort, then it is possible that the mucocele will resolve itself without any intervention necessary. This is particularly true when they are present in babies and children.
Mucoceles may resolve themselves within three to six weeks of first appearing, although they may be present for much longer, even years, without being a cause for concern. If a patient has a mucocele that exists for that long, the dentist or doctor treating the patient may simply monitor it, or they may decide to intervene and treat the lesion.
Surgical removal of a mucocele is possible. If you are concerned about the condition and the treatment of a mucocele you should discuss this with Dr. Shackleton. This type of cyst is prone to recur.
Patients should be advised to avoid thrusting at the cyst with their tongues and may be provided with instructions to rinse with warm salt water to help in the healing process.
For more information on treatment for oral mucoceles or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Tom Shackleton, please contact us at 403-242-9952 today.