What is the bull?

A torus is a bony growth in the mouth. There are two types of tori: mandibular tori and palatal tori. As a general rule, a bull is not a major cause for concern, and no medical action is necessary when diagnosed, unless it interferes with the patient's ability to eat or drink. If a bull needs to be removed, the surgery is usually performed by a maxillofacial surgeon. The growth is sometimes mistaken for cancer when patients first discover it.

In the case of a palatal torus, the version that forms on the palate, the growth always appears along the midline of the palate. It starts out as a small swelling that slowly turns into a bulging bump over time. The torus is not painful and will usually not be noticed by the patient until especially grown or when directed by a doctor. Sometimes the area around the torus ulcerates, but otherwise the site is usually perfectly healthy. There appears to be a genetic component to tori palatines, although they can also be caused by environmental factors.

A mandibular torus always appears on the inside of the lower jaw. Classically, the bulls appear on both sides of the jaw, in the same position. Teeth and jaw grinding appear to contribute to the formation of mandibular tori, and genetics may also be involved. This type of torus can interfere with the fit of dentures, and in cases where the projection becomes enlarged, it can make feeding difficult for the patient, in which case extraction may be recommended.

If a bull needs to be removed, the patient will be placed under anesthesia to allow the surgeon to work. He or she will cut off the bull entirely or shave the growth down to a smaller size, depending on how large the growth is and where it is located. After oral surgery, the patient will usually need to take preventative antibiotics so that the infection does not set in, and certain dietary restrictions may need to be followed until the site heals. Fortunately, the mouth tends to heal very quickly, so patients can usually return to a normal diet soon after surgery.

Bony outgrowths like bulls can also appear in other regions of the body, but these growths are only known as bulls if they are found in the places mentioned above. When removed and sectioned, these growths tend to consist of dense, mature bone, and there may be pockets in the bone filled with fatty deposits and tissue. The reasons why the tori shape is not fully understood; in some cases, they appear to be an indicator that a patient has a condition such as temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder, while in other cases, the growths appear to be completely random.

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