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A dentist refers to the roof of your mouth as the “palate.” It’s likely you don’t think about that part of your mouth very often, unless when you eat something hot and burn it. It doesn’t really require a lot of attention as a general rule. When you do notice it, it’s usually because of pain or swelling. That may make you ask, why is the roof of my mouth swollen and sore? When you explain to your dentist at Eastern Slope Dental, there are a few screenings to help them understand what’s going on. The palate is basically a piece of hard bone covered by a thin layer of mucosa. Nevertheless, there are a few possible conditions. Here are ten reasons why the roof of your mouth could be swollen or painful.

Oral Burns

Most commonly, the roof of the mouth hurts or swells because it is physically hurt or burned. There can be moderate to severe pain or tenderness at the point it was burned. Smoking can cause trauma because of heat and fumes. Smoking-related burns usually turn the top of the mouth white and tiny dots as small as a pin can  develop

Mouth Sores

Different types of sores including canker sores can cause swelling and pain on the roof of the mouth. They are often caused by stress, environmental factors, or viral. Herpes strains often cause sores in and around the mouth. Mouth sores are small, round ulcers that can be relatively small. Some types of sores can flare-up and cause several mouth blisters.


If you are not consuming enough liquids, you may have several symptoms. You may have tenderness in your mouth, a dry mouth, or pain and swelling in the roof of the mouth. When your body lacks the fluids it needs, your electrolyte balance can be off and this can trigger swelling in the roof of the mouth.

Mouth Cancer or Other Serious Conditions

No one wants to think about it, but if the roof of your mouth becomes swollen for no reason, it’s important to visit a dentist in Conway, NH for an exam. They can screen you for oral cancer which often goes unnoticed. In most cases, there isn’t pain or discomfort, so something obvious like swelling may be indicative of an advanced case.


When mucus builds up in the mouth, it can form a lumpy cyst on the roof of the mouth. This cyst is called a mucocele. It doesn’t usually cause any pain, and often can occur following a minor injury to the roof of the mouth. Usually, the mucocele will burst on its own without any treatment. If a mucocele is larger than normal or recurs, it may need to be drained.

Epstein Pearls

Epstein pearls are commonly seen in newborns and appear as small, whitish-yellow cysts that appear on the gums and roof of the mouth. As many as four out of five newborns experience Epstein Pearls. They are harmless and typically go away just a few weeks after birth. Some parents often mistake them for new teeth.

Torus Palatinus

This condition is a bony growth right in the middle of the palate, or roof of your mouth. It can be almost unnoticeable, or it may be large. No matter what size it is, it doesn’t indicate any underlying conditions or diseases. Sometimes, people are born with it, but it can appear later in life. The symptoms include a hard lump in the middle of the roof of the mouth. It may be smooth or lumpy and it may grow slowly over time. Most of the time there is no treatment. But if it gets too large for dentures, or if it becomes irritating, it’s possible to have it removed by a North Conway oral surgeon.


The tissue on the roof of the mouth is vulnerable to injuries because it is sensitive. It is easily burned, cut, or irritated. A cut or puncture wound can occur when eating hard foods like chips. When there is a wound, the roof of the mouth can swell and a lump can appear. Ongoing injuries can eventually cause a lump of scar tissue. This is called an oral fibroma. Symptoms of an injury include pain, bleeding, bruising, a lump.


When the mouth develops too many teeth, it’s referred to as hyperdontia. Most of the time, extra teeth grow in the roof of the mouth right behind the two front teeth. If you notice a lump in the front of the roof of the mouth it might be an extra tooth trying to come in. It is very rare, but it is possible for one to grow further back on the roof of the mouth and it can become swollen. Other symptoms include headaches, jaw pain, and facial pain. Hyperdontia is detectable on dental x-rays. If a dentist at the Conway dental clinic discovers an extra tooth, it can be removed.

Squamous Papillomas

These noncancerous masses are caused by HPV or Human Papilloma Virus. They often form in the roof of the mouth but can form in other areas of the mouth too. Symptoms include a swollen lump which is painless, grows slowly, is white or pink in color, and looks like a cauliflower. In most cases, they do not cause problems and don’t require treatment. However, if they cause any problems, they can be removed.

Contact North Conway Dental

If you have questions about swelling in the roof of your mouth, contact us at North Conway Dental. We can schedule an exam to determine the cause and develop a treatment plan.

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