Oral mucous cyst
An oral mucous cyst is a painless, thin sac on the inner surface of the mouth. It contains clear fluid.
Mucocele; Mucous retention cyst; Ranula
Mucous cysts most often appear near salivary gland openings (ducts). Common sites and causes of cysts include:
Symptoms of mucoceles include:
Symptoms of ranula include:
Exams and Tests
Your health care provider can usually diagnose a mucocele or ranula simply by looking at it. Other tests that may be done include:
A mucous cyst often can be left alone. It usually will rupture on its own. If the cyst returns, it may need to be removed.
To remove a mucocele, the provider may perform any of the following:
A ranula is usually removed using laser or surgery. The best outcome is removing both the cyst and the gland that caused the cyst.
To prevent infection and damage to the tissue, DO NOT try to open the sac yourself. Treatment should only be done by your provider. Oral surgeons and some dentists can remove the sac.
Complications may include:
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Contact your provider if you:
These may be a sign of more serious problem, such as mouth cancer.
Avoiding intentionally sucking the cheeks or biting the lips may help prevent some mucoceles.
Patterson JW. Cysts, sinuses, and pits. In: Patterson JW, ed. Weedon's Skin Pathology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2016:chap 16.
Scheinfield N. Mucoceles. In: Lebwohl MG, Heymann WR, Berth-Jones J, Coulson I, eds. Treatment of Skin Disease: Comprehensive Therapeutic Strategies. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 157.
Woo BM. Sublingual gland excision and ductal surgery. In: Kademani D, Tiwana PS, eds. Atlas of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 86.
Review Date: 6/28/2018
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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