What is the definition of Oral Mucous Cyst?

An oral mucous cyst is a painless, thin sac on the inner surface of the mouth. It contains clear fluid.

What are the alternative names for Oral Mucous Cyst?

Mucocele; Mucous retention cyst; Ranula

What are the causes for Oral Mucous Cyst?

Mucous cysts most often appear near salivary gland openings (ducts). Common sites and causes of cysts include:

  • Inner surface of the upper or lower lip, inside the cheeks, bottom surface of the tongue. These are called mucoceles. They are often caused by lip biting, lip sucking, or other trauma.
  • Floor of the mouth. These are called ranula. They are caused by blockage of the salivary glands under the tongue.

What are the symptoms for Oral Mucous Cyst?

Symptoms of mucoceles include:

  • Usually painless, but can be bothersome because you're aware of the bumps in your mouth.
  • Often appears clear, bluish or pink, soft, smooth, round and dome-shaped.
  • Vary in size up to 1 cm in diameter.
  • May break open on their own, but may recur.

Symptoms of ranula include:

  • Usually painless swelling on the floor of the mouth below the tongue.
  • Often appears bluish and dome-shaped.
  • If the cyst is large, chewing, swallowing, talking may be affected.
  • If the cyst grows into the neck muscle, breathing can stop. This is a medical emergency.

What are the current treatments for Oral Mucous Cyst?

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:

  • Freezing the cyst (cryotherapy)
  • Laser treatment
  • Surgery to cut out the cyst

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.

What are the possible complications for Oral Mucous Cyst?

Complications may include:

  • Return of the cyst
  • Injury of nearby tissues during removal of a cyst

When should I contact a medical professional for Oral Mucous Cyst?

Contact your provider if you:

  • Notice a cyst or mass in your mouth
  • Have difficulty swallowing or talking

These may be a sign of more serious problem, such as mouth cancer.

How do I prevent Oral Mucous Cyst?

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. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 17.

Scheinfeld N. Mucoceles. In: Lebwohl MG, Heymann WR, Berth-Jones J, Coulson IH, 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.

  • Condition: Mucocele of the Minor Salivary Gland
  • Journal: Journal of oral pathology & medicine : official publication of the International Association of Oral Pathologists and the American Academy of Oral Pathology
  • Treatment Used: Polidocanol Sclerotherapy
  • Number of Patients: 112
  • Published —
This study tested the safety and efficacy of using polidocanol sclerotherapy to treat patients with mucocele of the minor salivary gland.

There are no recent clinical trials available for this condition. Please check back because new trials are being conducted frequently.