What Does a Hard Bump on Gums Mean?

Published on: December 28, 2022
Concerned woman in a dental chair touching the area by her mouth.

If you suddenly feel a lump or bump inside your mouth, you may be concerned about your oral health. It is understandable to be alarmed by a new growth anywhere in your body. A hard bump on the gums is usually not serious, but there are various possibilities of what is causing the oral lump.

From boney growths to oral sores and cysts, a hard bump on the gums can be caused by several different oral conditions. To determine what your oral bump means, it depends on the color and other accompanying symptoms.

White Hard Bump on Gums

Is your oral lump on your gums white? This can help determine what is causing the hard bump in your mouth. If you have a white hard bump on gums in your mouth, it may be one of the following conditions:

  • Abscess. If you have an infection in the gums or around a tooth, it can cause an abscess. These may appear white and feel semi-hard. Most abscesses will also cause pain, but not always. Any oral infection should be treated by a dentist.
  • Cyst. Oral or dental cysts can appear white and create a lump on your gums. Cysts can be soft or hard, consisting of a sack of fluid under the skin. Most cysts are harmless and painless unless they become infected or put pressure on a tooth.
  • Tori. Mandibular tori are boney growths that can cause a white hard bump on gums. These growths are common, and they are not a health concern. A torus only needs to be removed if they begin to interfere with your teeth or cause discomfort when wearing dentures.
  • Canker sores. If you have a small white hard bump on gums that is painful, it could be a canker sore. These are usually encompassed with a red border, lasting for a few days or longer before they go away.
  • Fibroma. If you have an injury or irritation on your gums, you may get a fibroma. These are noncancerous lumps that can grow on gums, on the inside of lips or on the tongue. They are painless and may appear whitish or darker than the surrounding tissue.
  • Oral cancer. Although unlikely, it is possible that a white hard bump on gums is oral cancer. Oral cancer can cause lumps or bumps in the mouth that are white or red, but there are more common causes than cancer. Your dentist can determine the cause of your lump.

White lumps on the gums are most likely harmless. Mandibular tori, canker sores and fibromas are the most common causes of white bumps on the gum tissue, but it may be worth a visit to your dentist to ensure that it is not something more serious, especially if the lump causes pain.

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Red Hard Bumps on Gums

If you have a hard bump on gums that is red or the same color as the surrounding tissue, this can indicate a few different conditions. Some of the possible oral issues that can create red or white lumps on the gums include previously listed fibromas, abscesses, canker sores or oral cancer.

Another cause of red bumps on gums is oral polygenic granulomas. These are blood-filled lumps that can appear on the gums. They are usually painless, but they may bleed easily. If they cause issues with dentures or other devices, they may need to be surgically removed.

Is a Hard Bump on Gums Mouth Cancer?

Oral cancer affects an estimated 50,000+ individuals in the U.S. each year. Over 5,000 Americans may die from this disease each year. Oral or mouth cancer is very treatable in the early stages, but often it has no symptoms until the later stages when it is more deadly.

A hard bump on the gums can be a sign of oral cancer, but it is more likely another condition. Some of the other symptoms of oral cancer include:

  • Red or white spots on the oral tissues
  • Sores that do not heal
  • Tongue, throat or jaw pain
  • Pain while chewing or swallowing
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • Bleeding sores in the mouth

When you have a lump on your gums and any of these accompanying symptoms, there is a higher chance of oral or mouth cancer. You should schedule a dental checkup and oral cancer screening with your dentist to determine what is causing the hard bump on gums and other symptoms.
A concerned man with holding a toothbrush and touching his gums with the other hand.
Most red or white hard bumps on gums are not caused by a serious health condition. However, it is always a good idea to have a new lump in your mouth examined by your dentist to ensure that it is not an abscess, tumor or other oral health concern, especially if it is causing pain or discomfort.

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