Mandibular tori is a dental condition that affects an estimated 10% of the U.S., and most patients don’t even know it. If complications arise, though, you will definitely want to know more about mandibular tori removal. This is what to expect.

What are mandibular tori?

Mandibular tori are harmless, symmetrical growths of bone that occur under the tongue in your lower jaw (the mandible that lends them their name).

They are one of three types of torus. The other two are:

  • Maxillary tori (also known as palatal tori or torus palatinus) that occur in the upper palate in the center of the upper arch of your teeth
  • Buccal exostoses, the rarest of the three and seen on the upper molars on the outside of the upper arch (touching the cheek)

All of these grow very slowly. Development is influenced by four main risk factors.

  • Gender: Tori show gender preference, with men more affected by mandibular tori, and palatal tori more common in women.
  • Genetics: If your parents had tori of any kind, your risk increases. Approximately 40-60% of children whose parents have tori develop them also.
  • Bruxism: In addition to creating a host of other dental issues, teeth grinding and jaw clenching stimulates bone growth, often in the form of tori.
  • Injury: Injury seems to prompt bone growth as well, so any blow to the jaw or head can cause tori to develop.

A mandibular tori is slow growing, and this is the reason that many people never know they have one. Once you have it, though, you have it. A mandibular tori (or any other torus) does not go away on its own.

Types of mandibular tori removal

In most cases, mandibular tori are so mild that people don’t even know they are there. For an unfortunate few, the tori grow together, rubbing during the course of normal activities like talking and eating. Some people find that food gets stuck under them, causing a host of other dental issues. In older people, prominent tori may make it challenging to fit dentures comfortably. If any of these situations occur, you may need mandibular tori removal.

Mandibular tori removal can be done with traditional surgical techniques or with a laser.

Traditional surgical mandibular tori removal requires general anesthesia, with traditional surgical techniques to remove the growth.

Waterlase tori removal uses a laser and a stream of water to remove the bony growths without drilling. This is a less invasive procedure that cuts post-operative pain dramatically, reduces swelling and bleeding, and minimizes the need for pain medications, both during and after the procedure.

What to expect with a mandibular tori removal

The procedure for traditional surgical tori removal is like any other surgery. The patient receives general anesthesia, and the dentist uses a scalpel to access the bone and a drill to remove it.

Although the surgery is not necessarily more uncomfortable than a wisdom tooth extraction, the oral surgeon may need to use chisels and mallets to loosen the bone to remove it