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What are Mucous Cysts?

Mucous cysts also referred to as mucoceles, are fluid-filled sacs that occur on the inner surface of the lip or anywhere inside the mouth caused due to blockage of the salivary glands with mucous. Most cysts are temporary and painless. However, if not treated they can become permanent.

What Causes Mucous Cysts?

Common causes of mucous cysts include:

  • Lip or cheek biting
  • Piercings
  • Salivary gland rupture
  • Poor dental hygiene
  • Bad reaction to tartar-control toothpaste

What are the Symptoms of Mucous Cysts?

Symptoms vary depending upon the frequency of occurrence of the cysts as well as how deep the cyst lies within the skin. For cysts that lie deep within the skin, the symptoms include:

  • Whitish appearance and round shape
  • Tenderness

Symptoms for cysts that occur near the surface of the skin include:

  • Swelling
  • Appears bluish and soft
  • Appears less than 1 centimetre in diameter

How are Mucous Cysts Diagnosed?

Small, painless mucous cysts are often diagnosed when you visit your dentist who may refer you to your doctor for further assessment. Your doctor will examine the area, ask about your symptoms, and take a medical history. Your doctor may also order a biopsy to confirm the diagnosis, where a small sample of tissue is removed from the area of concern and examined under a microscope to ascertain whether it is cancerous tissue.

How are Mucous Cysts Treated?

Treatment depends upon the severity of the cyst. Superficial ones often do not require treatment and typically resolve on their own. Frequent occurring cysts will require medical attention.

Treatment for mucous cysts may involve:

  • Laser therapy: involves using a small, directed beam of light to remove the cyst
  • Intralesional corticosteroid injection: involves injecting a steroid into the cyst to speed up healing and reduce inflammation
  • Cryotherapy: involves removing the cyst by freezing the tissues

Treatment for severe or recurring cysts involves surgical removal of the cyst or even the salivary gland. Depending on the type of cyst and the severity of the cyst, healing may require anywhere from a week to two years.

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