What Is a Complex Odontoma?

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The complex odontoma is one of two types of a benign odontogenic tumor. The other type is the compound composite odontoma. They are composed of the same tissues that make up teeth: enamel, dentin and pulp. The difference between an odontoma and a tooth is that the formation of the tissues are not tooth-like in arrangement.


The etiology of the tumor is unknown, but theories include genetic factors, family history, trauma and infection of the area. There is no gender difference in prevalence, but the lesion is more likely to be found in the posterior mandible. It can be present in any age group, though it rarely appears in primary dentition, according to a study published by the National Journal of Integrated Research in Medicine (NJIRM).

A complex odontoma develops like a tooth as it goes through three stages of development and mineralization. In the first stage of development, there is no mineralzation. In the second stage, the mineralization or calcification of the tooth-like structures begins. In the final stage, the complex odontoma is completely mineralized and stops growing.


This tumor is, for the most part, asymptomatic and is discovered during routine dental exams. It is not associated with impacted teeth. Depending on its location, the tumor may cause pain, delay eruption of teeth or cause displacement of teeth. Damage to the teeth adjacent to the developing mass may occur, according to a study in the Scientific Journal of Dentistry.


The lesion may require a biopsy to allow for a definitive diagnosis if it cannot be determined from a clinical exam and imaging. Depending on the symptoms, the decision will be made to either surgically remove or monitor the tumor. Sometimes the surgery itself can create more complications than the lesion. Nerve damage and bone defects in the jaw may require additional corrective procedures, such as bone grafting. Therefore, it should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Surgery requires good oral care to be conducted during the healing period. If it is difficult to brush soon after the extraction, swish gently with a mouthwash like Colgate Total Advanced Pro-Shield Mouthwash. It kills 99 percent of germs on contact.

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