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Gum Diseases

Mucocele possible in upper lip?

06/18/2007

Question:

48 yo female with recurrent (2-3 years) pimple like bump on inner left upper lip. Past two weeks the "pimple" came back with a large pea lump associated with it(looks like a whitehead). When squeezed a few drops of "pus" (?) came out or mucous? The head did not pop. Not a common area for a mucocele as I can see; but how much do I worry? Have had salivary calcifications removed from my ventral mouth over twenty years ago; no problems since. Good oral health otherwise. Thank you.

Answer:

You sound like a good diagnostician. What you are describing is likely an example of a salivary stone or sialolithiasis developing in one of the minor salivary glands of the upper lip. These stones can occasionally break apart and get flushed out into the mouth. In these cases the bump would get smaller. In other cases, the stone blocks the saliva flow so much that the duct swells. Secondary infection by bacteria from the mouth can lead to some local tenderness or pus-like material to be produced.

Given the length of time this has been a problem, you will most likely need to have this lump surgically removed. After removal, the tissue will be examined by a pathologist to exclude the very remote possibility that this bump could be a tumor.

Good luck!

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Response by:

John R Kalmar, DMD, PhD John R Kalmar, DMD, PhD
Clinical Professor of Pathology
Associate Dean of Dentistry Administration
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University