A bump or sore on the roof of the mouth can result from a burn or injury. It may also be a canker sore or cyst, or it may be a sign of an infection, such as candidiasis or hand, foot, and mouth disease.

In this article, learn what can cause a bump on the roof of the mouth, including possible additional symptoms and when to see a doctor.

Canker sores are round, whitish, open sores in the mouth. They more commonly appear on the inside of the lips or cheeks, but they can also form on the roof of the mouth, the gums, or the tongue.

The main symptom of a canker sore is pain. The sores are typically a few millimeters (mm) wide and have a sunken center with slightly raised, red edges. Some people may develop major canker sores, which can be 1–3 centimeters (cm) wide.

There are various causes of canker sores, including biting the cheek while chewing and scratching the roof of the mouth. They do not always appear due to injury. Stress can also be a contributing factor.

These sores usually resolve within a couple of weeks. They are not contagious, but they can be painful or uncomfortable and may make eating difficult.

Some over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription oral creams may numb the pain.

Hot beverages or foods that have just finished cooking can burn the inside of the mouth, including the roof. If the burn is severe enough, a bump or blister can form.

Minor burns usually heal without treatment as long as the person takes care to avoid irritating the sensitive skin.

Learn about how to treat a burn on the roof of the mouth.

The inside of the mouth is a sensitive area. Injury to the tissue on the roof of the mouth can lead to a bump forming.

This type of bump may result from:

  • puncture wounds
  • cuts
  • damage to the mouth from tobacco use
  • accidents from dental work
  • irritation from dentures

An injury may cause scar tissue to form in the mouth, which might be lumpy and raised. The sore may be painful or sensitive but will usually heal on its own.

Regularly rinsing the mouth with warm salt water may help promote healing.

Cold sores occur when a person has a herpes simplex virus outbreak. The virus produces blisters on the lips and in the mouth. They may also form on the roof of the mouth.

The signs and symptoms of cold sores may include:

  • a tingling sensation before the blisters appear
  • blisters that form in patches or clusters
  • oozing or open blisters that do not rupture
  • blisters that rupture and crust over before healing

Unlike canker sores, cold sores are contagious. The outbreak usually clears up within one or two weeks without treatment, but it is important to avoid coming into close physical contact with anyone during that time to prevent transmitting the virus.

If necessary, a doctor may prescribe some medications to speed up the healing process.

Mucoceles are oral mucous cysts that form due to an irritated or inflamed salivary gland. Mucus builds up in the gland, leading to a round, fluid-filled bump or growth.

People usually develop a single mucocele, measuring 1 mm to 2 centimeters in diameter. They are dome-shaped lesions that have a clear or bluish hue.

Mucoceles are not usually a cause for concern and will heal without treatment. A healthcare professional can remove them if they keep coming back.

A very hard lump on the roof of the mouth may be a sign of torus palatinus. Torus palatinus is an extra bone growth that is typically benign and not indicative of an underlying condition.

It will not usually require treatment unless it causes discomfort and affects a person’s ability to eat, drink, or talk. In these cases, surgery may be necessary.

Oral candidiasis is a form of yeast infection that may cause red or white bumps in the mouth. A person will be able to scrape these bumps off, but they will come back.

Other symptoms include:

  • a cotton-like feeling in the mouth
  • loss of taste
  • pain when swallowing or eating
  • cracking at the corners of the mouth

It is vital to see a doctor or dentist to properly diagnose oral candidiasis, as the symptoms may mimic those of other conditions.

A doctor may prescribe oral antifungal medication that a person applies to the inside of the mouth for 1–2 weeks. They will also provide advice on how to prevent the infection in the future.

Coxsackievirus is the name of the virus that causes hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD). HFMD is more common in young children, but it can affect anyone.

The virus can cause painful sores in the mouth. A rash can also develop on the hands and feet. Other symptoms include fever and body aches.

Doctors may prescribe medicated mouthwash to help relieve symptoms while they treat the virus.

A parent or caregiver may notice Epstein pearls in a newborn’s mouth. These are also called gingival cysts.

Epstein pearls are white or yellow and will go away a few weeks after the birth without causing any additional problems.

Although rare, a bump in the top of the mouth may be an extra tooth. People with hyperdontia grow too many teeth.

In the upper jaw, these extra teeth can develop just behind other teeth, but sometimes they can appear further back toward the roof of the mouth.

A person with hyperdontia may experience pain in the area where the extra tooth is growing as well as jaw pain and headaches.

Hyperdontia is treatable, and dentists can usually remove any extra teeth without complications.

Oral squamous papilloma is benign growth that grow in the mouth. The commonly appear on the palate, lips, uvula, tongue, and gingiva. They develop as a result of the human papillomavirus.

These growths are usually 1 cm in size and painless. They can be pink or white in color and may have a bumpy, cauliflower-like texture.

A doctor may recommend removing oral squamous papilloma. This can help reduce the chance of recurrence.

In rare cases, sores or bumps on the roof of the mouth may be cancerous. Bumps that occur due to oral cancer may be white, gray, or bright red, depending on the underlying cause. They may feel smooth or velvety.

Possible signs of oral cancer include:

  • a lump or sore that does not heal
  • a rapidly growing lump
  • an oddly shaped patch of tissue
  • open, bleeding sores

However, oral cancer is not the most likely cause of a bump on the roof of the mouth. Many people may confuse signs of oral cancer with other issues in the mouth.

It is crucial to give the sores time to heal. If a bump shows no signs of healing after 3 weeks, it is essential to speak to a doctor for a proper diagnosis.

This is particularly important for those who have risk factors, such as tobacco use.

While many bumps on the roof of the mouth will resolve without treatment, some may require medical intervention. A person should see a doctor for:

  • very discolored patches in the mouth
  • persistent pain
  • a foul smell in the mouth
  • pain when chewing or swallowing
  • severe burns
  • dentures, retainers, or other dental devices that no longer fit properly
  • trouble breathing
  • a fast-growing bump
  • a bump that changes shape
  • a bump that does not go away after 3 weeks
  • a bump that interferes with daily life

Anyone concerned about a bump on the roof of their mouth should speak with a doctor, who can help determine the underlying cause and recommend treatment if necessary.

There are many causes of a bump on the roof of the mouth. Some causes can include a canker sore, ulcer, trauma or injury to the mouth, and cold sores. Some bumps may be benign cyst, such as a mucocele.

However, in rare cases, the cause may be cancer. A person must contact a doctor to get an accurate diagnosis.