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man holding mouth in pain

Sore Spot: Your Oral Surgeon Can Treat Scar Tissue in Your Mouth

You know what’s irritating? That … that, right there!

That sore spot in your mouth that nobody else can see – except for your hygienist and dentist – but that is constantly bothering you.

It may not feel like a big problem, but it can be a nagging issue, day and night.

Maybe you feel it each morning when you bite into your favorite breakfast burrito – and the same sore spot inside your cheek registers pain or the irritation is coming from your dentures or other foreign objects.

If this irritation is getting worse, you probably are thinking:

What the heck is this, why won’t it go away, and how do I treat it?

Oral Fibroma: Irritation Leads to Scar Tissue in the Mouth

Most of the time, these sores in your mouth are likely an oral fibroma or scab of fibrous tissue that usually develops from constant irritation to a specific area of the mouth.

This mass of connective tissue usually grows in response to trauma or localized irritation, which is one reason it can also be called traumatic or irritant fibroma.

This scar tissue can also be called:

  • Fibrous hyperplasia
  • Fibrous nodule
  • Oral polyp

Banner-University Medicine Head and Neck Institute’s Kyung Hoon Chung, MD, says that oral fibromas “are caused by trauma or localized irritation on your tongue, lip, gums or the inside of your cheeks.”

Constantly biting your cheek or lip, for example, is a common cause.

Dr. Chung also says that dentures, orthodontic appliances, and restorations that rub against your mouth can also be a cause of oral fibromas. Certain patients, like diabetics, tend to be at greater risk for oral issues.

What do oral fibromas exactly look like?

  • Hard and smooth tumor-like clumps of scar tissue (often like a callous)
  • Usually appear the same color as the skin on the inside of the mouth, but could be paler, or could appear darker in color if it recently has bled
  • The surface could be ulcerated due to trauma, or become rough and scaly
  • Usually dome-shaped but may be a short stalk like a polyp

While older adults are more likely to develop oral fibromas, they can be seen in patients of all ages. Estimates are it affects 1 to 2 percent of all adults.

Why You Should Have an Oral Surgeon Check It Out

Of course, there are other things that could be happening in your mouth, so the best course of action is usually to have a professional check it out, preferably an oral surgeon.

While most fibromas do not develop into oral cancer, your oral surgeon will often do a biopsy of the affected tissue to rule out any cancerous cells.

Oral fibromas normally occur in one location. If you have many areas of scar tissue, your oral surgeon will want to diagnose you for other conditions including:

  • Tuberous sclerosis
  • Cowden syndrome
  • Familial fibromatosis
  • Fibrotic papillary hyperplasia of the palate

If your oral fibroma is not irritant or trauma related, it could be several other types of oral fibroma, which your oral surgeon can diagnose:

  • Oral elastofibroma
  • Epulis fissuratum
  • Giant cell fibroma
  • Myofibroma and myofibromatosis
  • Peripheral ossifying fibroma
  • Peripheral odontogenic fibroma
  • Retrocuspid papilla
  • Sclerotic fibroma

How a Simple Surgery Can Treat Your Sore Spot

Oral fibromas will not disappear without treatment so your oral surgeon and you may decide that the best course of treatment is to have the oral fibroma removed with a simple surgical procedure.

This is a quick procedure, usually done under local anesthesia.

Your oral and maxillofacial surgeon will flatten the area by removing the scar tissue and then close the wound with a couple of stitches (unless the surgery was performed using laser technology).

Your sore spot will then likely heal within a week.

Of course, this simple surgery treats the problem and not the symptom. It is up to the patient to prevent the recurrence of more oral fibromas but changing the oral habits that cause them.

“Breaking your habits takes time,” Dr. Chung said. “My recommendation to my patients would be asking them to start paying attention to when they’re doing it, and work to either avoid those triggers or work to consciously stop themselves.”

If you have a sore spot in your mouth that won’t go away, contact the board-certified surgeons at Northwest Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery for a consultation.

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