Have you ever had a hard, smooth bump or lump inside your mouth that just won’t go away? For those who have, it can be more than a little irritating, and kind of frightening too.
There’s a decent chance that bump might be an oral fibroma. Luckily, these are usually benign. But if you’ve got one, it’s still important to learn about what you’re dealing with, and what your next steps should be.
Kyung Hoon Chung, MD, a doctor of oral and maxillofacial surgery at Banner - University Medicine Head and Neck Institute in Phoenix, spoke with us about oral fibromas and the importance of seeing a medical professional for evaluation and treatment.
How can I tell if it’s an oral fibroma?
Oral fibromas, also known as “reactive hyperplasia”, are hard and smooth scar tissue. They are usually the same color as the inside of your mouth, unless they’ve bled recently — usually from too much irritation — in which case they might look white or dark red.
Dr. Chung said most oral fibromas develop from trauma or localized irritation on your tongue, lip, gums or the inside of your cheeks. Compulsively biting your cheek or lip, for example, is a common cause. So are dentures, orthodontic appliances and restorations that rub against your mouth. Certain folks — like diabetics, for example — tend to be at greater risk for oral issues.
That said, all types of people can get oral fibromas, and they are fairly common. At Dr. Chung’s facility, he said about 27% of all head and neck pathology referrals are related to oral fibromas, adding that in most cases, the fibroma is benign. In order to confirm an oral fibroma is benign a microscopic tissue exam is needed.
Since other lumps and bumps can also mimic an irritated fibroma, it is important to get it tested.
How do I get my oral fibroma treated?
Although you may be inclined to try a home remedy, when that bump is an oral fibroma, the only real fix is surgical removal. Currently, oral fibromas can be removed through surgical excision with a scalpel or laser. Dr. Chung mentioned that laser removal is quite efficient since the laser cauterizes the incision and stops the bleeding. Removing it by scalpel does require sutures and might produce slightly more scarring (but since it is inside of your mouth only your dentist will ever know).
How can I prevent fibromas?
Once your biopsy and treatment are complete, you may wonder how you can avoid getting another fibroma in the future. An important first step is to start paying closer attention to your oral habits. For instance, are you compulsively biting your cheek, perhaps when you’re in deep focus or when you’re anxious? Minimizing this type of chronic mouth irritation can help reduce your risk.
“Breaking your habits takes time,” Dr. Chung said. “My recommendation to my patients would be asking them to start paying attention to when they’re doing it, and work to either avoid those triggers or work to consciously stop themself.”
How to get help
Do you have a bump in your mouth and don’t know what it is? If you or someone you know is worried about a possible oral fibroma, help is available. To find a Banner Health doctor near you, visit bannerhealth.com.
To learn more about common oral issues, check out these articles:
- Why Grinding Your Teeth Is Bad for Your Health
- How Jaw Problems Could Be Causing Your Headache Pain
- Is Your Sinus Infection Causing Your Toothache?