What is Torus Palatinus?
Torus Palatinus is a type of bony protrusion on the midline of the roof of the mouth which is known as the palate. Sometimes this condition is sometimes also referred to as Paltinus torus.
Torus Palatinus is a Latin word. The word “Torus” means lump, bull or to stand out. This condition is not a life threatening one. It is not a cancer nor is it painful or sore, yet it is a serious condition that needs medical attention. The growth is often solid and cannot be moved with the fingers.
This condition seems to be more common in females than males and more common among Asians, Eskimos and Native Americans than any other ethnic group. In the United States, nearly one—fourth to one—third of the population is affected with this condition. It first appears in the early adulthood and as you grow old, the size of the bony growth reduces as the bone gets re-absorbed.
The torus palatinus can be sometimes classified according to their appearance. They can arise with various shapes such as spindle shaped, nodular, flat or lobular. The spindle shaped tori has a midline ridge. The flat tori are usually located in the midline of the palate and they usually extend to either side symmetrically. The nodular tori consist of multiple bony growths and each of them has their own base. The lobular tori contain multiple bony growths with a single base that is common to all.
What are the causes of Torus Palatinus?
The exact cause of Torus Palatinus is yet to be determined. However, many researches have been carried out and possible causes have been listed. Some researchers believe that genetics play a role in the etiology of this condition and follows a pattern of autosomal dominant inheritance. What does this mean? This means that the mutated gene is located on any chromosome other than the sex chromosome and this explains the reason why Torus Palatinus seems to be more common among certain ethnic groups. If you develop this condition, then you have a 50% chance of transmitting this mutated gene to your children. However, if neither of the parents have the condition, there is still a 5% to 8% chance of the children developing this.
Other possible causes that researches think would cause Torus Palatinus include:
- Calcium deficiencies
- Vitamin deficiencies
- Environmental agents
- Superficial injuries
- Abrasion of the teeth or a tooth
- Grinding teeth while sleeping
- Chewing excessively or forceful mastication
- On Phenytoin therapy.
- Trauma to the bones of the oral cavity
What symptoms does this condition produce?
The main presenting complaint of most patients is a growth on the roof of the mouth. It usually measures about 2 cm in diameter. However, it can increase in size and the rate of growth of this lump is very slow. Therefore the sizes can vary from a tiny nodule to a huge bump in the mouth.
Due to its slow growth rate, most patients are unaware of the presence of tori. However, there have been some cases where they exhibit a growth spurt and the patients present with a rapidly growing mass in the inside of their mouth.
On palpation of the mass, the growth feels soft and broad. Usually, these growths are not painful but as they grow in size it can cause irritation of the mouth. Although they are made of bone, the growth appears to be pink in colour as they are covered by the non-resilient and frim tissue of the palate.
The blood supply for this growth is less and therefore if you injure your mouth and the growth is damaged, then healing will be very slow. In such cases, the area can be painful as well if ulcers develop on them.
Definitely, since this growth is on the mouth, torus palatinus may cause difficulty in drinking and eating. It could also interfere with the placement of dentures and sometimes lead to infections which would then spread to the palate or the bone. If this occurs, then the condition will be painful as there may be ulcerations in the mouth.
In a nutshell, the presenting symptoms of torus palatinus include:
- Growth on the roof of the mouth
- Difficulty in drinking or eating
- Interference with the placement of dentures
- Painful ulcerations of the mouth
How is this condition treated?
Although Torus Palatinus is not a life threatening condition or a cancerous growth, it is something that requires medical attention. However, some cases may not be serious enough requiring medical attention. If the bony growth is interfering with the placement of dentures, eating or drinking, then it is an indication that you need to see your physician.
The main method of treatment of Torus palatinus is surgical treatment. During the surgery, a certain amount of bone from the palate will be removed. Therefore the surgical removal of the bony growth may offer a solution to people in whom the condition causes a problem.
This procedure can be done under local or general anaesthesia. The surgery is done by a maxillofacial surgeon and before the surgery they will make the bony growth more visible by staining it. Following this, he or she will then make an incision over the area to expose the underlying tissue and the torus palatinus will be removed.
The prognosis of this surgery is often excellent and has very minor post-operative complications such as bleeding, swelling and infection. Patients often recover fully within 3 to 4 weeks.
Is it cancer or tori?
When you see a growth, the first thing most people think of is cancer. So here is a simple way to find out – is it cancer or tori?
Cancers of the mouth are rare while tori are more common than them. Cancer is usually found in the soft tissues of the tongue or the cheek and they have a red color and is asymmetrical. Cancers are also often associated with the enlargement of the regional lymph nodes and sometimes numbness and tingling sensation of the tongue and lower lips. On the other hand, torus palatinus occur as midline structures of the palate and does not have lymph node involvement and does not cause numbness or tingling sensation of the tongue or lower lip.