Neurofibroma is a type of tumor that forms in the peripheral nerves. It can develop along any of the peripheral nerves in your body, including inside your mouth. When this tumor develops on your oral tissues, it's known as oral neurofibroma. Here are three things you need to know about it.
What are the signs of oral neurofibroma?
If you have oral neurofibroma, you'll notice soft, painless lesions inside your mouth. These lesions grow slowly and are usually less than 2 centimeters in diameter when they're found, though lesions of more than 8 centimeters in diameter have been reported.
If you push on the lesion, you will be able to move it. The lesion will feel lumpy and has been compared to a "bag of worms."
What causes it?
The cause of oral neurofibroma still isn't completely clear. These tumors are thought to begin in the perineural fibroblasts. Perineural fibroblasts are cells that produce collagen, one of the main proteins that makes up connective tissue. They are found around the cylinders of your nerves. More research is required to confirm that perineural fibroblasts are the origin of these tumors.
Oral neurofibromas can be associated with Von Recklinghausen neurofibromatosis. This is a genetic disorder that leads to tumors throughout the body, including inside the mouth. The tumors can also form in people who don't have this disorder, though researchers still don't know why this happens. More research is required to identify possible causes.
How is it treated?
If your dentist diagnoses you with oral neurofibroma, and you don't have neurofibromatosis, there is little to no risk that your tumors will become cancerous, but they will still be surgically removed, just in case. The entire tumor will be carefully cut away, and your dentist will be careful to preserve the affected nerve. The recurrence rate after this surgery is minimal.
If you have neurofibromatosis, the risk of your tumors becoming cancerous is much higher. The risk of malignant transformation has been reported to be as high as 12%. The risk of recurrence after removal is also high, and multiple recurrences can lead to malignant transformation, so surgical removal is not recommended. If you have neurofibromatosis, your dentist will only remove your oral neurofibromas if they are causing functional or aesthetic problems.
If you notice lumpy, worm-like lesions on the soft tissues inside your mouth, see your dentist right away for diagnosis and treatment. Contact a clinic like Family Dental Center TriCities, PC for more information.