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It can be a little disconcerting to find bumps or growths anywhere in the body, not the least when you find them in your own mouth. One of the most common causes of such a growth is a torus (tori for plural).
Depending upon the jaw where they are found, these growths may be called either torus palatinus (when found in the upper jaw) or torus mandibularis (when found in the lower jaw).
What Is A Torus?
A torus is a bony overgrowth that can occur in many different regions of the body. It occurs quite commonly in the jaws and the range of occurrence varies from 12-30% across populations and ethnicities.
Among the jaws, it is found more commonly in the upper jaw in females and the lower jaw in the males.
Why Does It Occur?
The exact reason behind the occurrence of a torus is unknown, although there are some theories. The most popular one among them is that an increased amount of biting force can cause the bone to try and reinforce itself by adding some girth. There is, however, ample evidence of people that have biting forces within the range of normal developing tori in their mouths as well. This is why researchers believe that a genetic component to the occurrence of these bony growths must exist.
In fact, there is some research that tori are passed down as autosomal dominant traits which mean that the child will have this feature if either one of the parents has it.
The torus usually begins to appear after the child has hit puberty although in some cases it may appear later in life. The torus can increase in size for some time until it finds its own equilibrium and then stays the same for the rest of its life.
How Big Can This Torus Be?
These growths can vary quite a lot in size, appearance and in number. In the palate, the most common kind of torus is a singular one running down the midline of the palate and about a few centimeters long, while in the lower jaw, a bilateral appearance of the tori is the most common presentation. The tori in the lower jaw appear most commonly on the inside of the premolars.
The size of the tori in the lower jaw is usually smaller than the palate.
In some occasions, though, the bony growths in both the upper and lower jaw can become extremely large. In such conditions, they start to affect the cosmetic appearance of the individual and can also compromise the prosthetic rehabilitation of the person.
This "interference" by the torus in prosthetic treatment is, in essence, the only reason why a torus would need to be removed. Since it is an overgrowth of the normal bone, there are no other symptoms involved.
As mentioned earlier, the torus does grow to a certain size before becoming stable, however, any growth that changes in size should be examined closely by a doctor and checked for the presence of any cancerous cells.
Your doctor will ideally note the presence of this torus in your clinical records and make a note of the size, shape, and extent of the bony growth for further reference.