Mucocele is a fairly common condition seen in children.
How does it form?
The minor salivary glands, and, there are over 600 of them, are small glands that produce saliva. They are too small to be seen by the naked eye and consist of a small globular gland. The saliva that forms in the gland drains out through a narrow tube (the duct) into the mouth. This saliva helps us chew our food and also starts the process of digesting food.
When the duct gets blocked for some reason, either some local injury due
to lip sucking or being bitten by teeth or for some unknown reason, there is a buildup of saliva in the gland. The gland now becomes big and is seen as a soft, mobile swelling filled with clear fluid. It may have a bluish hue to it.
Should I do something for my child’s mucocele?
Mucoceles are more of a bother and only occasionally, do they cause significant symptoms.
- Local irritation – the child may find the presence of this swelling disconcerting and is constantly touching it with his tongue or complaining about it being present.
- Pain – this only occurs if the child were to bite into the cyst
- Bleeding – this too only occurs on biting into the cyst
Typically, the swelling is seen for some time, gradually increasing in size. Suddenly one fine day, the swelling is no longer seen or seems to be very small. As a parent, you are most thrilled about it and sometimes it does happen that the cyst never comes back. What has happened is that due to constant secretion of saliva, the pressure within the mucocele increases to a point where the mucocele ruptures. Most of the time however, the opening so produced is small and heals by itself, for the process to repeat itself.
Are all swellings in the mouth called mucoceles?
There are many causes of swellings in the mouth. It is very important that your pediatric surgeon evaluates your child before labeling her as having a mucocele of the mouth.
What can be done for the mucocele?
If the mucocele troubles the child, it is better to remove it. For the young child in whom it occurs most commonly, it is better to do it under general anesthesia. This ensures that the child does not have any pain, that I have a still child to operate on, and the child does not have traumatic memories of the event.
You can help your child prepare for his upcoming operation by going through our general preoperative page.
The operation by itself is minor. After the mucocele is excised, we take sutures that are dissolving and don’t require removal.
Care after surgery
Very little special care is required after this surgery.
- In general, one should avoid hot (thermally) and spicy food. Your child will be able to eat within two hours after the surgery.
- Your child can go home the same day or the next morning after surgery.
- Older children are advised to gargle their mouth to maintain proper hygiene. In younger children who can’t gargle, we advised that you clean the operated area with Johnson’s ear buds that are soaked in hydrogen peroxide solution.
- You will have to bring in your child for a postoperative visit, to ensure everything is OK, about a week after the surgery.
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