The torus palatinus, or palatinus torus, is a type of bony growth or protrusion at the roof of the mouth, or palate. More specifically, it appears at the mid-line of this part of the mouth. Although it is far from a life-threatening condition, more serious cases might require medical attention. It is called tori palatinus, or palatal tori, in plural form.
Usually, this growth has a diameter of about 0.79 inches (2 cm), although it can be bigger since it tends to grow, albeit slowly. It feels smooth and can be knob-shaped or broad and flat, and it can vary in size, from a tiny nodule or spindle to a massive bump. In some instances, tori palatinus combine to form a growth similar to a tumor, but in other cases, it occurs as a singular growth. The variance in size and shape has led medical researchers to classify torus palatinus using these attributes.
Medical research has shown that the growths are more common in females than in males. They are also more common in Native Americans, Asians, and Inuit Eskimos than in any other racial or ethnic group. In the United States, it occurs in about 1/4 to 1/3 of the population. The condition usually appears during the early years of adulthood, with the possibility of growing in size. The growth, however, shrinks as one grows older, due to the reabsorption of the bones.
The cause of torus palatinus is yet to be determined, but some researchers believe that it could be the result of genetics. Although palatial tori are generally not painful, bigger ones have a possibility of presenting irritation. Also, if injured, the protrusion could become painful with the development of ulcers, as well as be slow to heal due to lack of an efficient number of blood vessels. This condition can cause difficulty in eating and drinking, which is a major symptom of the problem.
The appearance of tori palatinus can also interfere with the placement of dentures, and infection could spread to the bone or palate itself. In such cases, which also include pain and ulceration, the patient would need to see a medical professional. Surgery is the standard treatment, and it usually involves removal of a certain amount of bone in the palate. Prognosis for patients after surgery is generally excellent, with no known major complications.