A dental torus is a harmless growth of bone that is considered to be a “developmental anomaly” . The plural for torus is tori, pronounced like the actress Tori Spelling’s name. Tori are not cancerous and do not have the potential to become cancerous. However, they can present some problems if the day comes when you have to wear a dental partial or denture plate. I had dental tori for quite some time before I realized that not everyone’s mouth had these odd formations in them. Mine began to develop as I entered my teen years.
Tori usually occur in one of three areas of the mouth. They can appear in the roof of the mouth, inside the lower jaw, or the cheek side of the upper molars. The type that appear inside of the lower jaw are referred to as lingual tori, and almost always appear on both sides. Tori begin to appear in adulthood and continue to slowly grow. Mine appeared in my teens and have since become larger over time, as tori continuously grow very slowly.
My main problems I have experienced due to having tori are mostly dental or medically related. When the dental assistant places the small x-rays plates into my mouth for dental x-rays, it can be very painful because I cannot fit the plate properly in my mouth. The dental staff have to work around the tori, making taking dental x-rays literally painful for me.Another time I really experience problems is when I have to use an oral thermometer at the doctor’s office. Most nurses don’t think to really look inside of your mouth before shoving the thermometer in, and when the end of the thermometer pokes into the thin skin covering the tori, it can be quite painful. I have also been advised that I need to take extra good care of my bottom teeth, because the size of my tori would make it virtually impossible for me to wear a bottom dental plate without undergoing surgical removal of the tori.
This condition is estimated to affect about 27 of every 1,000 adults . If the tori are too large, they may interfere with speech. Most require no treatment, but in some cases may require surgery to remove them. I have been told by two dentists that if ever I need to wear a denture plate, I would have to undergo surgery first to remove the tori because they would make it impossible to wear a bottom plate. I have the lingual variety on the inside of the lower jaw, both sides.
Certain foods may irritate the thin skin covering the tori, so you have to be careful about what you eat. For example, a hard,crunchy, pointed snack food, such as Doritos, can actually scratch or cut the skin, making it painful. My personal favorite food problem is when an M&M gets stuck between the two areas where the bone juts out. Just one of those weird little things to live with if you happen to have tori.
No one really knows why tori form, but there is one theory. Some feel that a constant decrease of blood to the membrane or the sideways pressure of roots of underlying teeth may cause them to form. In reality, most of the time they are a non-issue and unless you open your mouth and have someone peek inside, no one will even realize they are there. Good dental hygiene practices are especially important if you have tori that may interfere with wearing dental partials or dentures, so take good care of the teeth you have to avoid having to have the tori surgically removed.