Simple Steps To Better Dental Health
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Featuring consumer information from Columbia School of Dental & Oral Surgery
Oral Health Made Simple: Your Prescription For Knowledge
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Step 1 Prevent ProblemsSimplestepsPrevent Problems
Step 2 Understand ConditionsSimplestepsUnderstand Conditions
Step 3 Explore TreatmentsSimplestepsExplore Treatments

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space placeholder.What Is It?.
space placeholder.Symptoms.
space placeholder.Diagnosis.
space placeholder.Prevention.
space placeholder.Treatment.
space placeholder.When To Call a Professional.
space placeholder.Prognosis.
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space placeholder.What Is It?
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A mucocele (MYOO-koh-seal) is a swelling in your mouth. It can happen when a salivary gland is injured or blocked. It occurs in about 1 out of 500 adults.

You have many salivary glands in your mouth. They produce saliva. Saliva is made of water, mucus and enzymes.

Saliva moves from a gland into your mouth through tiny tubes called ducts. Sometimes, one of these tubes is cut. The saliva pools at the cut spot and causes a swelling, or mucocele. These swellings commonly occur inside the lower lip. They also can be found in other places inside the mouth, including the roof of the mouth (palate) and the floor of the mouth.

Swelling also can occur if one of these tubes is blocked and saliva backs up in the tube. If swelling occurs because the submandibular duct is blocked, the mucocele is called a ranula. A ranula is quite large and appears under the tongue.

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space placeholder.Symptoms
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Most mucoceles do not hurt. They can be annoying, though. They get in the way of eating or speaking. Shallow mucoceles may burst. They release straw-colored fluid. Deeper ones can last longer. They are more likely to bother you.

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space placeholder.Diagnosis
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Your dentist will look for a rubbery, bubblelike swelling. It is usually inside the lower lip or under the tongue. Some mucoceles look blue. Your dentist will ask if you experienced trauma in that area. Maybe you bit your lip or were hit in the face with something. Also, some medicines can thicken your saliva. This can plug up a salivary gland and cause a mucocele.

Mucoceles occur only where you have salivary glands.

If you have a blue swelling that looks like a mucocele, your dentist may put pressure on it to see if it changes color (blanches). If it does, it may be a harmless growth made of blood vessels. This is known as a hemangioma.

Your dentist may take out the swollen tissue. It will be sent to a laboratory. The laboratory can tell if the tissue is a mucocele, or if it is something else. You may get an X-ray of the area. The X-ray will show if you have a salivary gland stone (sialolith). X-rays often are done for people who have ranulas.

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space placeholder.Prevention
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Mucoceles are common. Trauma is a leading cause. Try not to bite your lip.

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space placeholder.Treatment
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Infrequently, a mucocele goes away without treatment. But if some mucoceles remain untreated, they can scar over. Your dentist should examine any swelling in your mouth.

A mucocele usually is removed by surgery. The dentist may use a scalpel or a laser to remove the mucocele. Afterward, the tissue will be sent to a laboratory for evaluation. There is a chance that after the mucocele is removed another one may develop.

Some doctors use corticosteroid injections before trying surgery. These sometimes bring down the swelling. If these work, you may not need surgery.

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space placeholder.When To Call a Professional
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Contact your dentist if any swellings or sores in your mouth last for longer than a week.

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space placeholder.Prognosis
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With proper diagnosis and treatment, the outlook is good.

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