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Pictures, Causes, Symptoms & Treatment of Oral Mucocele

Updated on April 26, 2016

Oral Mucocele Pictures

What is Oral Mucocele?

Oral mucocele or also known as the mucus cyst of the oral mucosa is a swelling in the oral cavity particularly in the lower lip of the oral cavity. The condition is linked to the obstruction and rupture of the salivary gland and the accumulation of mucin within the connective tissue of the oral mucosa. Mucocele is rated as 17th most common oral lesion affecting children and young adults with peak prevalence occurring in individuals aged 10 to 20 years. It is a common condition of the oral cavity that equally affects men and women without racial predilection. The oral mucocele is characterized by a lump forming inside the lower lip which is rather firm and can be discomforting.

The salivary glands are exocrine glands that have a duct and produces saliva. It is also a gland that secretes an enzyme necessary for the breakdown of starch into maltose. The saliva that is produced by the salivary gland is an essential factor in digestion. There are different types of glands in the oral cavity that function in producing saliva and are located in the different areas of the oral cavity.

Parotid glands are the largest of the salivary gland that envelopes the mandibular ramus. The serous saliva is secreted through the oral cavity via the Stensen’s duct. The gland can be located close to the mandibular ramus just in front of the mastoid process of the temporal bone.

Submandibular glands are located below the lower jaws and produced both the serous saliva and the mucus. The saliva is secreted to the oral cavity passing through the Wharton’s ducts. The majority of the saliva in the oral cavity is coming from the submandibular gland although it is much smaller than the parotid gland.

Sublingual glands are situated beneath the tongue in front of the submandibular glands. This gland secretes mainly mucus that is secreted to the oral cavity through numerous excretory ducts as this gland has no striated ducts.

Minor salivary glands are distributed in the submucosa throughout the oral cavity. There are approximately 800 to 1000 minor salivary glands.


Oral mucocele is generally painless and asymptomatic. The onset of the swelling is rapid with the lump fluctuating in size. It usually occurs as a single lump or bump on the inside of the lower lip with a color that may be light bluish or translucent. The size of the lump also varies and ranging from a half inch to an inch and is often soft and firm.

The mucocele often develop on the surface of the lower lip but it can also develop on the inner side of the cheeks, floor of the mouth or in the front of the ventral tongue. The superficial lesion usually has a bluish tinge while deeper lesion has a normal skin color.

The lump in mucocele is dome shaped and superficial mucocele are transparent and fluid filled that may appear as single or multiple. Mucocele on the anterior ventral surface of the tongue on the other have a reddish color resulting from constant or repeated trauma against the lower teeth.

The mucocele that develop on the floor of the mouth is relatively large in size with blue to translucent hue resembling the belly of the frog. The large size of the oral mucocele or know as oral ranula can displace the tongue. The consistency of the lump is like mucus and do not blanch when pressed with a finger or tongue depressor.

The mucocele is generally painless except when accidentally bitten can the pain be perceived. It can get in the way of mastication and can also affect the speech or manner of speaking. The mucocele on the hand can be annoying and may rupture and release a reddish fluid. The onset can linger for a few weeks although there are instances where mucocele linger for a year.


The incidence of oral mucocele is basically due to an obstruction in the duct of the salivary gland. The obstruction is the result of a break or a discontinuation in the duct caused by trauma. The obstruction in the salivary duct results to an interference in the release of saliva to the oral cavity. The increase in the size of the salivary gland is the result of the accumulation of the saliva that was not released into the oral cavity due to the obstruction.

There are actually two phenomena that explain the etiology of the oral mucocele which are:

Mucus extravasation phenomenon explains oral mucocele arising from the rupture in the salivary gland that resulted from trauma and thereby resulting in swelling of the connective tissue that composed of machine that accumulated.

Mucus retention cyst explains the onset of oral mucocele as a result of obstruction or rupture of the salivary gland.

The trauma in the salivary gland may be the result of the following:

  • Mechanical injury during the process of mastication where the tissue of the lower lip gets caught between the teeth in the maxillary anterior and in the mandibular anterior.
  • Habitual biting of the lip may accidentally bite the salivary gland resulting in trauma subsequently the onset of oral mucocele.
  • Crush type injury can also result to oral mucocele
  • Chronic irritation of the oral cavity such as from cigarette smoking and extreme heat can injure the salivary gland.
  • Surgical procedures in the oral cavity may also cause trauma to the salivary gland.
  • Congenital mucocele in newborn babies is believed to be the result of birth trauma affecting the oral cavity.


Oral mucocele usually resolve on its own without treatment in a matter of 3 to 6 weeks from initial onset. Other mucocele on the other may linger longer and may also increase their size while others may recur after it has resolved.

Superficial oral mucocele can be treated with application of Clobetasol 0.05% or may also be treated with a gamma-linolenic acid. The drawback however with these treatments is the tendency of the mucocele to recur after is has resolved from the treatment.

Oral mucocele from mucus extravasation phenomenon is recommended for surgical removal of the mucocele together with the adjacent salivary glands. A simple and small incision on the inside of the lower lip where the mucocele occurred can be done to remove the oral mucocele. Recovery from surgical removal of the oral mucocele generally takes about two weeks with recommended limited range of motion of the lips for about 3 to 5 days following the operation. A soft diet is also required for a period of 3 to 5 days after the surgical removal procedure.


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      5 years ago

      , James...though is there a reason sour candeis (I like sour) are That much more efficacious than less-sour ones? And I can for some reason wrap my head around the notion of a stone in a bile duct that much easier than one in a salivary duct, which actually literally does have one's head wrapped around and why do stones form there, he wonders as he contemplates an engine-searching odyssey.That, in a different way than you do as you fight it, sucks, and I hope that the cure doesn't annoy or literally irritate anything too much. Better luck.


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