Oral Mucocele

Medically reviewed by The Dermatologists and written by Dr. Alexander Börve


  • Requires medical diagnosis
  • Symptoms: Small, soft, fluid-filled cysts, dome-shaped lesion
  • Color: Typically red, whitish or transculent
  • Location: Around the lips, gums, tongue, and roof of the mouth
  • Treatment: No treatment necessary; surgery

Oral Mucoceles are painless swellings around or in the mouth. They are usually caused by excessively biting or sucking the cheek or lower lip. However, the cause is unknown in most cases.

This damages the salivary ducts, emitting a buildup of mucus and creating the cysts. Some medications can cause saliva to thicken, increasing the risk for clogged salivary glands and mucoceles. If the growth changes color when you put pressure on it, the cyst may be a hemangioma – a growth of blood vessels.

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A mucocele usually appears inside or around the lips, gums, tongue, and roof of the mouth. It appears as a dome-shaped lesion and can occur spontaneously.

These cysts are small, soft and filled with mucous. Most of the time, the lesion is translucent, but it can sometimes be blue. Deeper lesions can have a whitish coloration, while bleeding into the swelling can cause a bright red appearance. They are typically painless, but when they can burst, they emit a clear fluid.

Most mucoceles are less than 1 cm in diameter but range from 0.1-4 cm in size. The duration of the lesion is usually 3-6 weeks; however, it may vary from a few days to several years in exceptional instances.

The Blandin and Nuhn mucocele occurs exclusively at the midline of the tongue. It is similar to mucocele in other areas, but is caused by repeated trauma against the lower teeth.

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What can I do?

You should occasionally check the cyst to make sure it does not become infected, and that it’s not getting any larger. Warm salt-water rinses may help speed up the healing process. Thrusting the lesion with your tongue can worsen the condition.



Should I seek medical care?

You should see a doctor for any cyst that appears in or around your mouth. This can help ensure that you receive a proper diagnosis.

However, if you are sure your lesion is a mucoceles, no treatment is necessary in most cases. If the mucoceles do not go away after long periods of time, consult a healthcare provider.



Mucoceles usually goes away on their own, especially in infants and young children. If the cysts enlarge, laser treatment or steroid injections may be needed. Mucoceles can be removed with surgery, but there is a chance the cyst will reappear. In young patients, periodic follow-up for 6 months can be an alternative to surgery.

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Catherine M Flaitz, DDS, MS. Mucocele and Ranula. Available at: https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1076717-clinical#b4


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