Understanding Oral Fibromas: What's That Bump in Your Mouth?

Oral Fibroma
Discovering a hard growth or bump inside your mouth can be a cause for concern. But before you jump to conclusions and let anxiety take over, it's essential to understand that most mouth growths and tumors are benign and harmless. One of the most common is known as a fibroma.

Still, it's always wise to consult a healthcare professional for a definitive assessment.

The reason is that some serious, life-threatening conditions can be sneaky, starting as innocent growths in their early stages. It's only as they progress that they reveal their true, more aggressive nature.

In this blog post, we'll explore what exactly oral fibromas are, their causes, main features, and most importantly, when to worry and seek professional guidance.

What is Oral Fibroma

Oral fibromas are non-cancerous growths that can show up in your mouth. They can pop up anywhere in there, like on your tongue, gums, inside your cheeks, or even on the roof of your mouth.

The name "Fibroma" comes from the kind of tissue they're made of, which is fibrous connective tissue. They are also called different names, like irritation fibroma, fibroepithelial polyp, or focal fibrous hyperplasia.

Think of it this way: fibromas are like your body's way of responding to long-lasting irritation or injury in your mouth. Just like how muscles grow when you lift weights, the tissues in your mouth can also adapt to ongoing stress.

The cells start producing a lot of collagen, which forms a hard lump of scar tissue. These growths can affect anyone, but they're more common in people between 30 and 50 years old.

Normal tissue vs fibrous tissue overgrowth

What's the Most Common Cause of Oral Fibroma

Anything that repeatedly irritates the mouth tissues can trigger a fibroma. If something in your mouth is constantly rubbing or injuring the soft tissues, a fibrous overgrowth can occur.

Some common culprits include habits like biting your cheeks or lips, sucking on them (which can happen with issues like misaligned or missing teeth), sharp teeth, or an ill-fitting denture or crown. Even metal braces can cause irritation that leads to abnormal growth.

Occasionally, specific types of fibroma may be due to factors other than chronic irritation. These include certain medications, serious illnesses (like diabetes or blood cancer), or even genetics. The exact causes of other overgrowths, like giant-cell fibromas, are still unclear.

Because these lesions can look similar and vary in severity, a microscope examination may be necessary to know exactly what's going on.

What Does Oral Fibroma Look Like

Now, how do you spot these fibromas? Well, they can look different from person to person depending on where they are and what's causing them.

Typically, they're small, usually about 1 to 2 centimeters in size. They can be oval or round with well-defined edges. They can be attached by their base or by a small stem.
Clinical image of fibroma inside the cheeks
The outer layer usually looks normal, similar to the surrounding tissues, but if the irritation persists, it might turn white.

When you touch them, they can feel soft or hard. Most of the time, they don't cause any pain or other symptoms, but if they get injured, they can become painful, inflamed, or even develop ulcers.

Other Oral Lumps That Look Like Fibromas

Many other oral conditions can look like fibromas. The good news is that most of them are harmless and not a threat to your health.

The main difference between these growths is the type of tissue they come from. For example, Mucoceles are cysts that originate in the salivary glands and can look like swellings or blisters. Papillomas, also known as warts, have a cauliflower-like surface and are caused by a viral infection.

Then there are Lipomas, which are benign tumors that resemble fibromas but come from fat tissue and are usually soft and yellowish.

Neurofibromas also look like fibromas but originate from nerves and surrounding cells. They're slow-growers and don't cause symptoms.

And finally, Fibrosarcomas, which are like the malignant (cancer) version of fibromas. They are rare and start benign but can grow aggressively at later stages.

Should Oral Fibromas Raise Concerns

Most of the mouth growths, including fibromas, are benign and don't have the potential to become oral cancer. If you spot something in your mouth that matches what we've discussed, it's likely a fibroma or a similar benign growth.

However, just to be sure, it's always a good idea to consult your dentist or healthcare professional. Even if you notice the tiniest changes in your mouth, like unusual red or white patches, ulcers, swelling, or any discomfort.

Usually, oral fibromas or benign lumps aren't a big deal as long as they're not causing symptoms and they're not growing quickly. However, if you have one that's growing fast, bleeding, painful, or causing swollen nodes in your neck or under your jaw, it's time to seek professional help.

They might need to do a biopsy to identify the exact nature of the lesion and recommend the appropriate treatment.

How Are Fibromas Treated

When it comes to treating these benign oral tumors, surgical removal is the way to go. There are a few ways to do this, such as:

  • Cryosurgery: This involves using extreme cold to freeze and remove the growth.
  • Laser: Laser treatment employs focused light energy to vaporize or cut away the tumor.
  • Surgical excision: The growth is physically cut out using surgical instruments.

After the lesion is removed, it gets sent to a specialist for a closer look under the microscope.

As for recovery, it's usually pretty quick. You might feel some mild pain in the first few days, but it should gradually get better as you heal. During this time, remember to take good care of your mouth, stick to a soft diet for a few days, avoid smoking and hot and spicy foods, and follow any prescribed medications.

How to Prevent Oral Fibromas

Prevention is an essential part of the treatment. If you don't address the things irritating your mouth, fibromas can come back.

Plus, it's not just about fibromas; chronic irritation can lead to more serious oral problems like infections or even induce malignant changes in the mouth tissues.

So, identifying and addressing the source of the injury is crucial. This might mean adjusting an ill-fitting denture, getting sharp teeth fixed, or addressing habits like cheek or lip-sucking.

If you grind your teeth, managing stress better can help. And if you have braces, you can use orthodontic wax to protect your mouth from injuries.

Remember, it's all about being mindful of your oral habits and taking care of your mouth to keep it healthy and fibroma-free.

  1. A Color Handbook of Oral Medicine De Richard C. K. Jordan, Michael A. O. Lewis
  2. Essential Of Oral Pathology - Book by Swapan Kumar Purkait
  3. Giant-cell fibroma: Understanding the nature of the melanin-laden cells - PMC (nih.gov)
  4. Cryosurgery: A Simple Tool to Address Oral Lesions - PMC (nih.gov)