Molars are the rearmost teeth on your upper and lower jaw. These wide teeth with multiple cusps are responsible for the grinding function during chewing. Did you recently notice a swollen area near the molars? Contact your dentist for an appointment to discuss potential causes and treatments.
What are some of the potential causes and treatments for a soft tissue lump near your molar teeth?
Impacting Wisdom Tooth
The rearmost molars are the wisdom teeth, which erupt during the teenage to young adult years. If your wisdom tooth hasn't erupted yet and there is a lump near your molars, the cause could be an impacting wisdom tooth.
Impacted wisdom teeth happen when the erupting tooth comes in at an angle rather than growing straight up. The angled tooth can end up pushing against the existing molars and can poke into the soft tissue to cause what seems like a lump.
Your dentist can diagnose an impacted wisdom tooth with x-rays. The dentist will then recommend removing the wisdom tooth to avoid further damage to your tissues and teeth. If your other wisdom teeth haven't erupted yet, the dentist might choose to remove all four teeth at the same time so as to avoid potential problems in the future.
A dental abscess can also cause a lump in the soft tissue near your molars. An abscess is a pus-filled pocket that forms when a nearby infected tooth leeches the infected material into the gums. Left untreated, an abscess can burrow through your jawbone and leak the infection into other areas of your body.
Your dentist will lance the abscess to drain the pus and then focus on curing the dental infection that caused the abscess. The molar tooth will likely need a root canal procedure to clean out the infection and protect the tooth from further damage.
Lumps near the third molar or wisdom tooth that cause swelling can indicate ameloblastoma, which is a non-cancerous tumor that forms due to irregular dental cell growth. Left untreated, the ameloblastoma can continue to grow and enter the nearby sinus cavity.
Your dentist will confirm the ameloblastoma with x-rays. The tumor is then cut out along with a wide perimeter of healthy tissue to ensure that the ameloblastoma is completely removed.
In rare cases, ameloblastoma can become cancerous, so you need to make a dentist appointment as soon as you feel a lump appearing. The cause could be a simpler dental abscess, but an early diagnosis can make treatment easier regardless of cause.