What is this lump on the roof of my mouth?
April 13, 2013 2:19 PM   Subscribe

There is a soft lump toward the front of the roof of my mouth. It is not a blister. It is not a canker sore. It might be a result of an infection where I had a root canal 6 months ago. Naturally, I think it's awful and life-ending.


Easter evening, I found a lump on the roof of my mouth, not on the gums. It's round, smushable with my tongue, and maybe a half a centimeter diameter. It's the same color as the roof of my mouth. I thought it was a blister, since I ate a really hot green bean earlier Easter morning. But it didn't hurt like a burn would. I gave it a week to go away. On Monday I called my doctor, who told me to rinse with liquid Mylanta 3x a day. That's a treatment for canker sores. This is a lump. I told the nurse that again, and she said if it didn't go away in another week to make an appointment. I thought it could be an infected salivary gland, but it doesn't hurt.

In September, I had a root canal. This lump is on the same side of my mouth as that tooth. When I push my tongue hard against the lump, I feel pressure on my gums above that tooth. Luckily, I have a dentist appointment Monday morning to get fillings done on teeth that are not near the trouble tooth. I'm going to ask my dentist to look at it. I'm out of town working a trade show and I've been standing at a booth for three days slyly Googling about mouth lumps, thinking the worst, and torturing misterussell by texting him about it constantly.

Is it possible that I have a raging infection where the root canal was and it's so bad something is poking out of the roof of my mouth? Is this a dentist-question or a doctor-question?

Thank you in advance for your kind and sane responses.
posted by kimberussell to Health & Fitness (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Dentists are pretty well versed in mouth lumps, in my understanding, and I'd bring it up then. If you don't have other signs of a raging infection (fever, etc) then I personally would wait out the weekend just fine.
posted by restless_nomad at 2:24 PM on April 13, 2013

Infection is a possibility, but it seems more likely that it's just a cyst or something.
posted by gjc at 2:26 PM on April 13, 2013

I had this thing exactly, with my root canal. You almost undoubtedly have an infection, and the lump is actually the termination of a little drainage tube your body has created (which is actually kind of cool) to relieve the pressure in the root. The fact that you feel pressure in your gum when you press on it confirms my suspicions. The infection is probably due to the fact that the root of the tooth is no longer alive; your body has identified it as a foreign object, and your gum tissue is actually eating away at it as it would a splinter.

The good news is: it's not an emergency. The bad news is: you're going to have to have some treatment to cure the infection, and possibly have the root canal re-done. You may have to see an endodontist. More good news: if your root canal was as recent as September, they probably can save the tooth.

As I type this, I am eating a sandwich. I had to remove the partial denture I wear to eat it. I have a partial denture because my dentist was a complete idiot and did not listen when I told him I felt pressure in my tooth after the root canal, and after a few years and a second opinion, the infection had eaten away the root of the tooth and it had to be taken out. My left front tooth is no more. Go ahead, ask me if I'm still pissed about it.
posted by Specklet at 2:34 PM on April 13, 2013 [8 favorites]

You're likely going to be fine until Monday.

I have a badly infected tooth that is causing me a lot of pain, and my dentist just gave me some painkillers and antibiotics (in case - in case - it starts swelling) and told me to wait it out until I can get the root canal done on Tuesday afternoon.

You have no pain and no known infection. Two days will not make or break you, especially if the only manifestation of the problem is uncertainty about what's going on.

Also, I've noticed that I tend to really monkey around with stuff in my mouth. I keep pushing the back of my bad tooth with my tongue right now, and it HURTS, but I can't stop doing it. If you can stop pushing at the lump with your tongue, that might give you some relief.
posted by k8lin at 2:35 PM on April 13, 2013

If you aren't having horrible pain, it's probably nothing too serious and can wait until Monday. That being said, if you have any fever or pain you should at least go to a walk-in to see if you can get a Rx for antibiotics and/or pain meds. (Or call the dentist if they have an emergency number.)

If it is an infection they will easily be able to tell with an Xray. (Which they will probably take anyway seeing as you are getting some work done and have a suspicious bump.)

They will handle it properly with treatment that Specklet outlined above. They will also put you on antibiotics and pain killers until they can schedule the appointment, which will clear the infection.

I had a root infection. I ended up getting the tooth extracted and now I have a titanium post awaiting the fake tooth later this month.

Sorry this is happening. Try rinsing with salt water to help keep your mouth clean over the weekend.
posted by Crystalinne at 2:37 PM on April 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

It could be an abscess caused by an infection. But if it is, that's nothing to freak out about. That's something a dentist would take care of, so going to the dentist on Monday is exactly what you should be doing. I once had an abcess and I let it go for a lot more that a weekend, due to some insurance shenanigans. I was still fine. You will be too. In the meantime, rinsing with some hot salt water might help.
posted by Ragged Richard at 2:38 PM on April 13, 2013

Could it be a mucocele? They can last weeks. They are somtimes a response to injury. I've had them in various locations, including the roof of my mouth.
posted by Knowyournuts at 3:20 PM on April 13, 2013

Echoing others to get it checked out. My friend had something similar and it was a tumor! He had it removed and is fine but, yeek! Have it looked at and get a second opinion, if necessary.
posted by amanda at 3:24 PM on April 13, 2013

I had a similar lump pop up above a tooth where a filling was badly done, leaving active rot inside to continue decaying and kill the root in secret. Mine was squashy too, and hurt to press on, but it went from "did I get hit in the teeth during one of my hockey games? Ow." to having an excruciating black-bean-sized lump protruding above the tooth four days later. My sage tooth wisdom is to run to the dentist when there's pain or a fast-growing lump. Yours is static and not painful, so getting it looked at Monday sounds reasonable.
posted by BigJen at 6:46 PM on April 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

IANAD IANYD Google apicoectomy (the Colgate professional site does a good job explaining it). Not saying that is what you need, but it's one possibility. Did you get a crown on the tooth after your RCT?
posted by LiverOdor at 6:57 PM on April 13, 2013

I'd be incredibly, incredibly surprised if this is an infection if it doesn't hurt.

Go see your dentist when you get back home.
posted by gramcracker at 7:10 PM on April 13, 2013

I remember having a bump on the roof of my mouth. I think it was a smilar size, but it was definitely small enough that I did not really notice it with my tongue often. My dentist noticed it. They were like "we're gunna numb it, poke it, and drain it, and that'll probably be it". And it was. If I remember correctly it was more firm than squishy, but it was a number of years ago and I don't remember exactly.
posted by Phredward at 7:39 PM on April 13, 2013

I had an awful, infected, dying tooth once with a large bump on the gums right over the tooth and beneath my lip. It hurt a bit if I pressed on it.

I had a root canal on the tooth, but since I'm allergic to a ton of antibiotics and had recently had a bad reaction to one, the dentist left it be (and the tooth actually wasn't crowned). The bump stayed for a long while after--about a year? If I pressed on it, I could feel some pressure in my sinuses. Eventually it just . . . totally vanished. It's not there now. I have no pain. The tooth seems fine and neither I nor my dentist have noticed any problems, 5 years later.

Which isn't to say you shouldn't get it checked out, just that it might not be a total disaster.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:12 PM on April 13, 2013

I'd be incredibly, incredibly surprised if this is an infection if it doesn't hurt.

Mine did not hurt at all. Not a bit. And the root of my tooth was basically half gone by the time it was removed.
posted by Specklet at 2:07 AM on April 14, 2013

LiverOdor: I did not get a crown, as my dentist said there would be a decent chance my tooth could stay even without the root being alive. I wanted to keep my own tooth as long as possible.

Thanks all for the calming answers. I'm home, still not in pain, and actually excited about the dentist appointment tomorrow so I can get this taken care of. I'll let you know what happens.
posted by kimberussell at 4:05 PM on April 14, 2013

My dentist was very unfazed by the situation. Just as Specklet said, the lump was/is holding drainage (it "popped" last night while I was sleeping. Ick.) I have a prescription for penicillin and a referral to an endodontist, where I'll probably have an apicoectomy, as LiverOdor thought.

Another remote case could be a fracture in my root, which'll lead to getting the tooth replaced altogether.

I'd pay $5 monthly for the sage answers I find on AskMe. Thank you all!
posted by kimberussell at 10:04 AM on April 15, 2013

I hope the mods don't mind my continuing to update.

Last Tuesday I had an apicoectomy on Tooth #7. So to answer: Is it possible that I have a raging infection where the root canal was and it's so bad something is poking out of the roof of my mouth? YES. It was a bad infection, even though I didn't feel a lot of pain from it.

The procedure was intense and bloody, even though I was numb to all pain. It took only an hour, though. My stitches dissolved and came out in 5 days instead of the week I expected. My face swelled up on the left side. Today I'm feeling pretty good - just some tenderness on the front of my face -- and I'm looking forward to going back to harder foods tomorrow.

The regimen of penicillin shrunk the lump. I'm on amoxicillin for one more day. Fingers crossed this is the end of the Tooth #7 troubles.
posted by kimberussell at 7:58 AM on May 13, 2013

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