Up to 90% of new parents (according to the UCLA School of Dentistry) may notice tiny white bumps that appear in their baby’s mouth. These tiny, benign cysts, known as Epstein’s Pearls, usually measure between one to three millimetres and can be found along the gum line or on the roof of the mouth. They are usually harmless and a normal part of your baby’s development.
Epstein Pearls usually begin to show when a baby is a few weeks old but can appear at any time. They are caused by skin getting trapped and filling with with extra keratin (a protein in the skin) during the process of the baby’s jaw and palate fusing together. This causes tiny cysts to form. Epstein Pearls may sometimes be referred to medically as gingival cysts, palatial cyst, mucosal cysts or dental laminate cysts.
Babies who are born after their due date or have a heavier birth weight are more likely to develop Epstein Pearls but any baby may have symptoms.
If you notice these small bumps in you baby’s mouth, you should seek advice from your Midwife, Health Visitor or Doctor, although unless your baby is in distress, refuses to feed or the gums begin to bleed there is no need for medical treatment.
Epstein Pearls usually disappear after a few weeks. Gentle rubbing can help speed up the process but normal feeding and sucking will also aid the cysts to dissolve naturally. Sometimes the small cysts will rupture and disappear and sometimes they will gradually shrink and disappear. If they do not dissolve naturally after a few weeks, you should seek medical advice.
If you notice similar sized cysts in other places in your baby’s mouth, they are most likely Bohn’s nodules which are also benign and harmless. You should speak to your Midwife, Health Visitor or Doctor if you notice any changes in your baby’s mouth.
Good oral hygiene and regular checking of your baby’s mouth and gums is recommended from birth.