What in the world are Tori? Maxillary (upper jaw) and mandibular (lower jaw) tori are densely mineralized bone that can protrude inward (from the maxilla) or towards the tongue (from the mandibular), also known as, a bony growth.
In the photo above, it is seen that the torus is from the midline of the hard palate protruding inward, which is also known as torus palatinus or palatal tori.
The reason for this condition isn’t exactly pinned down as many in the medical field believe it to be a mixture of multiple factors, mainly ones of genetics and of stress. Bruxism, or the grinding of teeth, as well as masticatory (chewing) stress may also aid in the development of tori in the mouth.
While they are most commonly found during early adult life, they can in some cases, in older people, decrease in size due to bone resorption. While the tori may decrease in time, in most cases, the tori due usually end up increasing in size. The prevalence of mandibular tori in the population can range from 5%-40% and is less common than tori on the palate. Tori has been shown to be more common in Asian, Native American, and Inuit populations. In 9 out of 10 cases, tori are known to be a bilateral condition – meaning that they occur on the right and left sides of the mouth. They can be found lingual (toward the tongue) or buccal (toward the cheek).
While tori may be something alarming to find, they are benign and commonly hard (as they are a bony growth), and are usually just uncomfortable to the person with them and do not require treatment unless the patient decides they are bothersome. Tori can interfere with the process of taking chewing, drinking, x-rays, dentures and crowns. It is possible that an ulcer can form on the area of a tori due to rubbing against foods, especially hard ‘chip-like’ foods.
Tori are typically removed and handled by a maxillofacial/oral surgeon and can be removed for a variety of reasons: interference with the ability to masticate (to chew), the seating of dentures or crowns, aesthetics or due to ulcer formation due to constant trauma to the area from chewing hard foods. It is however possible for the tori to reform due to reoccurring local stress to teeth in the same area.
Most importantly, whenever you feel any sort of growth, is to come to your general dentist as soon as possible and bring the growth to their attention. Oral health is just as important as the rest of the body and while tori are not cancerous, it is always important to rule out the possibly that a growth may be oral cancer.