What are Tori and Exostoses?

In about five percent of patients, bony growths are found that are normal variants.  An exostosis is a thickening of bone around the teeth.  A torus (plural tori) is a larger area of bone, and can appear in two forms:

  • Found on the middle of the hard palate or

  • On the gums adjacent to the tongue.

These bony growths appear to have a genetic link, but environmental situations tend to make them larger.  Bruxism (tooth grinding) and ice chewing especially seem to make them worse.

Exostoses, the growths directly adjacent to the teeth, can make it more difficult to keep the teeth clean, since the bone’s overgrowth makes it more difficult to position a toothbrush and floss properly around the teeth for good home care.

Tori are generally not a problem, except when a removable prosthesis, such as a partial denture or complete denture has to be fabricated.  Tori can cause these problems with a prosthesis:

  • Tori have very thin gingiva over them, and movement of a prosthesis can rub sore spots.
  • The position of the bone gets in the way of the prosthesis.
  • A palatal torus keeps a complete denture from accomplishing a tight suction.

For these reasons, it is especially important for patients that have tori to keep their teeth and gums in excellent shape.  Many people have had tori most of their life with no problem, and just assumed everyone had the same thing!

In cases where tori or exostoses are in the way for a prosthesis, a minor surgical procedure is used to remove them so that the complete denture or partial denture can be fabricated without problems.  Mandibular tori and exostoses can be removed by most general dentists, while a palatal torus is often referred to an oral surgeon when a complete denture is needed.

It is also possible to have a bony growth that doesn’t belong there.  Cancers called osteomas and sarcomas can form cause unusual bone growth in the mouth.  In virtually all cases, these growths lack symmetry, growing on just one side of the mouth or notably large on one side than the other.

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Why Replace Missing Teeth?

Many people wonder why it’s necessary to replace missing teeth. Let’s see what happens when a tooth is lost and is not replaced.

For the sake of our example, we’ll presume you have a missing lower molar, as in the photo here. When we’re young and our teeth are erupting, they’re programmed to keep erupting until they meet something.
So when you lose a tooth and don’t replace it, the process starts again. The corresponding tooth in your opposite jaw will once again start erupting. Unfortunately, when the shifting occurs, the tooth moves, but the bone that holds in the tooth does not move with it. This results in a loss of bone support for the opposing tooth.

Teeth also literally lean on each other. When you lose a tooth, the tooth immediately behind shifts forward. This throws off your bite and makes you more prone to tooth grinding (“bruxism”) and disorders related to the joint between the upper and lower jaws, the TMJ.

All of this shifting has a domino effect. Since it’s more difficult to clean these areas, cavities develop in the hard to reach areas. Periodontal disease, or so called “gum and bone” disease also develops more easily since you can’t clean these areas.

There are solutions for replacing teeth that I’ll cover in a future article. But if you have a choice on whether to save a tooth, you’ll have less cost and a better result if you save your tooth.

If you know your teeth need attention, give us a call today! You’ll be glad you did.

Thanks for visiting,
Have a great day!

Subscribe to WebDMD by Email

Local Phone: (606) 845-CARE (2273)

Toll Free (From the 606, 859, and 937 area codes): 1-888-917-CARE (2273)

Physical Location: 303 South Main Cross, Flemingsburg, KY

Mailing address: P.O. Box 474, Flemingsburg, KY 41041