Mucocele: what is it, what are its causes, symptoms and treatments

Mucoceles usually alarm most people. But they do not represent a health risk and can be cured effectively.

Last update: 27 March, 2022

The mucocele or oral mucosal cyst is a frequent cause of discomfort in the mouth when speaking or eating food. It presents as a lump or sac on the lips, tongue, roof of the mouth, or cheeks. Are you interested in knowing more? Next we tell you.

Currently, it is considered the most common benign lesion of the oral cavity. It is nothing more than a small cyst filled with mucus that forms in the regions where there are minor salivary glands. Studies estimate that 96% of mucoceles originate in the lower lip.

This lesion is not spread from person to person and is associated with disorders in the flow of mucus and saliva in the oral mucosa. In most cases, mucoceles resolve spontaneously.

What is a mucocele?

It is a benign cystic lesion It is formed by a disorder in the minor salivary glands. They usually contain mucus and are lined by mucous cells. They can be superficial or deep and their size varies from a couple of millimeters to 3 centimeters.

Research confirms that from the histopathological point of view, a mucin extravasation phenomenon is observed surrounded by a granulation tissue response, with numerous foamy histiocytes. Mucoceles are more common in children and young adults.

The minor salivary glands are the ones that can become obstructed and give rise to a mucocele in an area where they are abundant.

common symptoms

The mucocele manifests itself suddenly as a small mucus-filled blister or nodule inside the mouth, usually on the lower lip. It can be translucent blue in color or maintain the same color as the underlying mucosa. They are painless, unless accompanied by a wound.

Some people often confuse them with canker sores, however, the latter are ulcerative lesions with reddish edges and a white center that cause pain and discomfort. Although the lower lip is the most common location, they can also form on the tongue, palate, cheek mucosa, and floor of the mouth.

The mucocele usually disappears spontaneously after a couple of days. Similarly, it can be broken by trauma and heal naturally.

If this lesion in the mouth persists for more than 2 weeks, seek medical attention. Sometimes these oral formations could be indicative of cancer.



What are the causes of mucocele?

mucoceles are the result of lesions or obstructive processes at the level of the ducts or minor salivary glands. Some of the main associated causes are the following:

  • Lip bite.
  • Stones or sialoliths.
  • Direct blows to the face and cheekbones.
  • Injuries inside the cheeks due to orthodontics.
  • Family or personal history of Sjogren’s syndrome.

Types of mucocele

Mucocele can be classified according to the age of presentation and the underlying cause. Here are the characteristics of each of the types:

  • For extravasation: this type of cyst represents 92% of cases, according to studies. They are common in people between 10 and 30 years of age and result from traumatic processes in the oral mucosa with the consequent exit of mucus from the salivary ducts. This lesion lacks epithelial lining and is surrounded by fibrous connective tissue.
  • By retention: It is the least frequent form and occurs when the lumen of the salivary gland ducts is obstructed. This fact can be produced by a calculus, a sialolith or by epithelial proliferation. It is more common in people over 40 years of age and affects the floor of the mouth and the palate.

Mucocele Treatment

As mentioned, most superficial mucoceles resolve spontaneously. However, In chronic and persistent mucoceles, the treatment of choice is surgery..

The procedure consists of the removal of the mucocele and the adjacent minor salivary glands. The risk of recurrence after surgery is very low. It is a simple and safe procedure with effective recovery after a couple of days.

Similarly, liquid nitrogen cryosurgery is another popular option. Other forms of treatment are as follows:

  • To be.
  • Electrosurgery.
  • Intralesional corticosteroid injection.
  • Application of high potency topical steroids.
Canker sores should not be confused with mucoceles. These have a paler center that hurts.


An injury not to be underestimated

Mucocele is a benign and painless condition which causes discomfort in the mouth. Fortunately, these lumps go away quickly and are not a serious health problem. However, this type of lesion should not be taken lightly, since its recurrence and persistence could be a sign of tumor pathology.

In this sense, do not hesitate to seek professional care if you have a lump in your mouth that persists over time or other symptoms are added, such as pain and bleeding. Doctors and dentists are the only ones trained to treat the condition and provide relief.

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