A lump, bump, or other lesion on your hard palate may be a cold sore, canker sore, or a type of cyst. A sore that’s bleeding or will not go away may indicate a more serious condition, such as oral cancer.

Lumps and bumps aren’t uncommon in your mouth. You may have experienced them before on your tongue, lips, or the back of your throat. Many things can cause a bump or lesion on the roof your mouth, including a canker sore or a cyst. Most causes are harmless.

Here we describe 12 possible causes of bumps on the roof of the mouth, and what to do if they occur.

Torus palatinus is a bony growth in the middle of the hard palate, also known as the roof of your mouth. It can vary in size, from hardly noticeable to very large. Even if it’s large, torus palatinus isn’t a sign of any underlying disease. Some people are simply born with it, though it might not appear until later in life.

Symptoms include:

  • a hard lump in the center of the roof of your mouth
  • a bump that’s either smooth or lumpy
  • a bump that grows slowly larger throughout life

Most cases of torus palatinus don’t require treatment. If the lump gets too large to allow for dentures or becomes irritating, it can be surgically removed.

Torus palatinus affects around 27 people in every 1,000.

A nasopalatine duct cyst can develop in an area behind your two front teeth that dentists call your incisive papilla. It’s sometimes called a cyst of the palatine papilla.

These cysts are painless and often go unnoticed. If it becomes infected or causes irritation, the cyst can be surgically removed.

Canker sores are small red, white, or yellow sores that can occur on the roof of your mouth, tongue, or the inside of your lips and cheeks.

Canker sores aren’t contagious. They can develop at any time, especially following an injury to the mouth, during times of stress, or as the result of an allergy or sensitivity.

Other symptoms may include:

  • pain
  • difficulty swallowing
  • sore throat

Canker sores usually go away on their own within a week, but larger ones can last for up to 4 weeks. If you have a painful canker sore, you can try using an over-the-counter numbing agent, such as benzocaine (Orabase).

Here are 16 home remedies for canker sores.

Cold sores are fluid-filled blisters that typically form on the lips but can sometimes form on the roof of your mouth. They’re caused by the herpes simplex virus, which doesn’t always cause symptoms.

Other symptoms of cold sores include:

  • painful blisters, often grouped in patches
  • tingling, stinging, or pain before the blister forms
  • fluid-filled blisters that rupture and crust over
  • blisters that ooze or appear as an open sore

Cold sores heal on their own within 2–3 weeks. They’re very contagious during that time. Certain prescription medications, such as valacyclovir (Valtrex), can speed up healing time.

What are some cold sore remedies?

Epstein pearls are whitish-yellow cysts that newborns get on their gums and the roof of their mouths. They usually measure 1–3 millimeters across and may appear alone or in groups of two to six.

They are similar to milia, small white papules than can appear on the face of a newborn.

Parents commonly mistake them for new teeth coming in. Epstein pearls are harmless and usually go away within 3 months of birth.

Oral mucoceles are mucus cysts that can form anywhere in the mouth, including the roof of your mouth. Mucoceles typically form when a small injury irritates a salivary gland, causing a buildup of mucus.

Symptoms of mucoceles include lumps that are:

  • round, dome-shaped
  • filled with mucus
  • transparent, bluish, or red from bleeding
  • alone or in groups
  • white, rough, and scaly
  • painless

Mucoceles can last from several days to 3 years. They usually don’t require treatment but rupture on their own, often while eating. This can leave a painful lesion that heals a few days later.

Oral squamous papillomas are noncancerous masses caused by human papilloma virus (HPV). They can form on the roof of your mouth or elsewhere in your mouth.

Symptoms include a lump that:

  • is painless
  • grows slowly
  • looks like a cauliflower
  • is white or pink
  • can make eating and bite uncomfortable if it grows bigger

Most cases don’t require treatment. They can be surgically removed if they cause any problems.

How can HPV affect the mouth?

The tissue on the roof of your mouth is sensitive and vulnerable to injuries, including burns, cuts, and irritation. A severe burn can develop a fluid-filled blister as it heals.

A cut or puncture wound can also swell and feel like a lump.

In addition, ongoing irritation, often from dentures or other devices, can cause a lump made of scar tissue, called an oral fibroma.

Symptoms of a mouth injury include:

  • pain
  • bleeding or cut tissue
  • burning sensation
  • burn that blisters or crusts over
  • bruising
  • firm, smooth lump of scar tissue, which can be a flat under dentures

Minor mouth injuries usually heal up on their own within a few days. Rinsing with warm salt water or diluted hydrogen peroxide can help speed up healing and prevent infection.

Hyperdontia is a condition that involves the development of too many teeth. Most extra teeth develop in the roof of your mouth, behind your two front teeth. If the lump you feel is at the front of the roof of your mouth, it could be caused by an extra tooth coming in.

Additional symptoms of hyperdontia include:

  • facial pain
  • headache
  • jaw pain

Hyperdontia can be detected on routine dental X-rays. If your dentist does find evidence of extra teeth coming, they can usually remove them without any major problems.

What are impacted teeth?

It’s also possible for an extra tooth to grow away from the areas where teeth usually grow, known as an ectopic tooth. These teeth sometimes grow on the roof of a person’s mouth. Less commonly, they can appear in the nose or sinuses.

An infection with the Streptococcus A infection, known as strep throat, can cause red bumps or spots in the roof of the mouth known as petechiae.

Other symptoms of strep throat include:

  • a sore throat
  • redness and swelling in the throat
  • a swollen uvula, the fleshy part that hangs down the back of the mouth
  • a sudden fever
  • absence of a cough

A doctor can prescribe antibiotics for strep throat.

Oral cancer refers to cancer that develops anywhere inside your mouth or on your lips. While not common, cancer can develop in the salivary glands on the roof of your mouth.

Symptoms of oral cancer include:

  • a lump, growth, or thickening of the skin in your mouth
  • a sore that doesn’t heal
  • a bleeding sore
  • jaw pain or stiffness
  • sore throat
  • red or white patches
  • difficulty or pain when chewing or swallowing

Treatment for oral cancer depends on the location and stage of the cancer. Using tobacco products increases your risk of developing oral cancer. If you smoke and notice a lump anywhere in your mouth, it’s best to have your doctor take a look.

What are the early warning signs of oral cancer?

In many cases, a bump on the roof of your mouth isn’t anything to worry about. However, make sure to contact your doctor if you notice the following:

  • You have ongoing pain that is not improving.
  • You have a sore that won’t heal.
  • You have a serious burn.
  • It’s too painful to chew or swallow.
  • Your lump changes in size or appearance.
  • There’s a foul-smelling odor in your mouth.
  • Your dentures or other dental devices no longer fit properly.
  • A new lump doesn’t go away after a few weeks.
  • You’re having trouble breathing.

What does a bump at the roof of your mouth mean?

A new bump at the roof of your mouth may be a sign of some health conditions, such as injury, cysts, canker sores, cold sores, and cancerous growths, among others.

What are the bumps on the roof of my mouth and sore throat?

Red bumps or spots on the roof of the mouth, along with a sore throat, could be a sign of strep throat.

What is this weird bump in my mouth?

You may be born with a bump on the roof of your mouth. This is called torus palatinus and isn’t a sign of a medical condition.

When should I worry about a lump in my mouth?

Speak with a healthcare professional if the lump in your mouth doesn’t improve with at-home treatments, you notice signs of infection, the lump changes in size, color, or appearance, and you have a constant foul taste in your mouth. These may all be signs of an underlying health condition that may require medical treatment.

There are many possible causes of bumps in the roof of the mouth, ranging from canker sores to teeth that grow in an unusual place.

Some, such as canker sores, are painful but respond to over-the-counter medication.

Many types of bumps are either harmless or go away on their own, but a lump in the roof of the mouth can sometimes be a sign of cancer. If you have concerns about bumps or lesions in the roof of your mouth, it is best to see a doctor.