When a person injures his lip in an accident, sometimes the injury can sever the tiny duct to a minor mucous gland that resides inside the lip tissue.  When you gently bite the inside of your lower or upper lip holding a large part of the smooth tissue between your teeth, you may be able to feel little bumps all over the inside of the lip.  These little bumps are the minor mucous glands that keep your oral tissues lubricated.

In general, these glands do their jobs without ever causing a problem, but when the ducts that empty them are injured in an accident, a severed duct can heal over.  When this happens, the mucous that the gland produces will build up in a sac under the mucosa and produce a little blue tinted blister called a mucocele.

These mucoceles will enlarge, and eventually break releasing a bit of slightly salty fluid into the mouth.  After they break, they go flat for a while before they again fill up with mucous.  This will keep happening over and over again until the involved mucous gland is removed, along with the severed duct and the mucocele itself.

MucoceleCopyright 2006 Martin S. Spiller, D.M.D. courtesy of Dr. Ed Cataldo

Not all mucoceles have a blue tint.  If the cyst is buried deeper under normal tissue, the lesion may have a pink or reddish appearance as in the image above.   If the cyst is very superficial, then it may even be clear as it appears in the images of the mucocele on the soft palate below:


Treatment involves surgical removal by a trained surgeon.  Removal of the mucocele is not enough.  Removal of the lesion itself is simply the first step.  the surgeon must also remove the minor salivary gland that caused the cyst in the first place which usually involves removing quite a few of them because it is not always possible to determine which of the many sub-mucosal glands caused the problem in the first place.


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