What are the signs and symptoms of mucoceles?

Updated: Oct 19, 2020
  • Author: Catherine M Flaitz, DDS, MS; Chief Editor: Jeff Burgess, DDS, MSD  more...
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Mucoceles are painless, asymptomatic swellings that have a relatively rapid onset and fluctuate in size. They may rapidly enlarge and then appear to involute because of the rupture of the contents into the oral cavity or resorption of the extravasated mucus. The patient may relate a history of recent or remote trauma to the mouth or face, or the patient may have a habit of biting the lip. However, in many cases no insult can be identified. When lesions occur on the anterior ventral surface of the tongue, tongue thrusting may be the aggravating habit, in addition to trauma. The duration of the lesion is usually 3-6 weeks; however, it may vary from a few days to several years in exceptional instances.

Patients with superficial mucoceles report small fluid-filled vesicles on the soft palate, the retromolar pad, the posterior buccal mucosa, and, occasionally, the lower labial mucosa. These vesicles spontaneously rupture and leave an ulcerated mucosal surface that heals within a few days. Several lesions may be present, and they range from being nontender to painful. Some individuals note a pattern of development during mealtime. Often, an individual may rupture or unroof the vesicles by creating a suction pressure. Typically, affected individuals report a chronic and recurrent history. Frequently, the patient has a history of lichen planus, [16] lichenoid drug reaction, or chronic graft versus host disease involving the oral mucosa. [17]

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