When it comes to our oral hygiene routines, we’re so used to the smoothness of our gums that finding a pimple on the gums, or even swelling around one tooth, can feel confusing and distressing. Your first inclination may be to panic a bit, as finding bumps and lumps usually means there’s an underlying health condition at play, but when it comes to the mouth, you may just be dealing with something harmless. Let’s jump in and go over commonplace bumps and lumps that form on the gums, and symptoms that indicate a call to the dentist is needed.
8 Causes of Bumps on the Gums or Pimples in the Mouth.
While most hard bumps on the gums have simple explanations to them, it’s important to always get them checked out by your dentist to rule out any serious underlying causes. Before we get into the signs to watch for, here are 8 common causes of lumps, bumps, and pimples.
1. Canker Sores. Canker sores, or aphthous ulcers, are the most common type of soft tissue lesion that can appear inside the mouth. They are painful, small, red or white lesions that may have yellowish pus inside. While they can form on the side of your tongue, they are more commonly found at the base of your gums. For most sores, it only takes a week or two for the wound to heal naturally - although you can always speed up this process by applying an OTC analgesic on the area. This will help reduce discomfort and make sure that your skin recovers as quickly as possible!
2. Mandibular Torus (or Tori). If you notice hard bumps on your gums that are positioned just below your teeth, you may have mandibular tori. These are non-cancerous bone growths that protrude from the inside surface of the lower gums, or along the top palate of the upper jawbone. These are considered harmless, are usually painless, and can be bumpy or smooth to the touch. If they cause a lot of discomfort during chewing, then a surgical procedure may be recommended to remove some of the bone.
3. Fibromas. Oral fibroma is the medical term to describe a benign, non-cancerous bump on your gums. This type of lump develops on the gum area due to an overgrowth of fibrous tissue, or from irritation caused by oral devices. To the touch, they will feel hard, smooth, and dome-shaped, and should not cause you any pain. These are usually harmless and don’t require any dental treatment, but you should get them checked out for peace of mind.
4. Cysts. A dental cyst is a small, fluid-filled pocket that may contain soft materials and air. They’re often found around the roots of dead or buried teeth, and grow slowly over time without any pain. If they become infected, you may notice some swelling and pain around the bump it causes on your gum line. We always recommend that if a cyst has formed, it gets monitored and removed or drained by one of our specialists.
5. Fistulas. Have you noticed a pimple on your gums? This could be a fistula, which is a small, tunnel-shaped wound or bump that forms on the gums in order to drain out an infection. They commonly form in individuals with periodontal disease, or in those who frequently get abscesses at the roots of their teeth. If this small bump on your gums does not drain properly or gets blocked, it can cause further problems, which is why it’s important to have one of our specialists check it to see if you need antibiotics or a root canal.
6. Pyogenic Granuloma. If you notice a swollen, blood-filled bump on the gums that bleed easily, this could be a pyogenic granuloma. This is a small, red bump or growth that forms on the gums due to inflammation, infection, minor injury, or general irritation. Often harmless, they can be surgically removed.
7. Abscess. An abscess is a painful, soft, warm bump on the gums that develops when bacteria from plaque enter a cut or open wound and cause an infection. It is fluid-filled, painful, and often accompanied by swelling and redness of the gums. An abscess should be checked out immediately, as it’s indicative of a serious infection.
8. Oral Cancer. Unfortunately, sometimes bumps, lumps, and pimples on the gums are caused by oral cancer. The good news here is that oral cancer is highly treatable when caught early on, and there are warning signs you can watch for. If you notice new growths or sores that don't heal and disappear within two weeks or find yourself with persistent pain or a change in the texture of your gums, then it’s a good idea to make an appointment and have it checked.
When Should You Call The Dentist? Symptoms to Watch For
If you’ve noticed a new bump or pimple on your gums, or have swelling around one tooth, the underlying cause is likely harmless. However, it’s always a good idea to get any new formations checked out by us as soon as possible. Symptoms to monitor for include
- Are you running a fever, but don’t have the flu, a cold, or any other ailment?
- Do you have persistent, throbbing pain in one area of the mouth?
- Do you have a foul-smelling breath that doesn’t go away with oral hygiene?
- Are you experiencing a foul taste in your mouth?
- Do you have a bump or pimple that isn’t healing or is getting progressively worse?
- Is the bump on your gums bleeding?
- Do you have red or white patches inside your mouth/on your lips?
If you notice any new growths or experience any of the above symptoms, it is important to contact us here at Family, Implant & Cosmetic Dentistry right away. Our knowledgeable and experienced team of dentists can inspect your gums and provide a diagnosis to determine the underlying cause.