An odontogenic cyst is a lesion that occurs in the jaw and is related to the development of the teeth, according to an educational article in the Journal of Istanbul University Faculty of Dentistry. By definition, a cyst is an abnormal sac lined by epithelial tissue and surrounded by more fibrous connective tissue. Odontogenic cysts are often harmless, and a dental professional will classify the specific type of cyst depending on its cell makeup, size and location.
What Causes an Odontogenic Cyst?
Odontogenic cysts most commonly occur either as a result of inflammation or during the development of a tooth, reports an article in Diagnostic Histopathology. The source of the inflammation may be a severe gum infection that develops after the death of a tooth. Cysts associated with tooth development often have no clear cause and may affect the tooth's ability to erupt from the gums. Some types of odontogenic cysts may recur, or grow back, if a medical provider doesn't completely remove the cyst tissue during treatment, according to the article in Diagnostic Histopathology.
Types of Odontogenic Cysts
Many odontogenic cysts are asymptomatic, so they may not be diagnosed until they grow to a significant size, reports an article in Dental Update. Each type of cyst occurs in a different location in the jaw, and most are benign, or noncancerous, according to the textbook Oral Pathology for the Dental Hygienist. When diagnosing an odontogenic cyst, a medical professional will consider the following types, outlined by the article in Diagnostic Histopathology:
- Dentigerous cysts are the most common developmental cysts that form around the crown of a developing tooth.
- Glandular odontogenic cysts are rare developmental cysts in the front portion of the lower jaw.
- Gingival cysts form in the gum or soft tissue of the jawbone. They are common among infants but can also affect adults.
- Lateral periodontal cysts are developmental cysts that form around the side surfaces of a tooth root.
- Odontogenic keratocysts are developmental cysts in the back portion of the lower jaw.
- Paradental cysts form around a tooth that is only partially erupted — especially the third molar (wisdom tooth) — resulting in the inflammation of the surrounding area.
- Radicular cysts account for approximately 60 percent of odontogenic cysts and form around the root tip of a dead tooth.
- Residual cysts are radicular cysts that remain in the jaw even after a tooth is removed.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Odontogenic cysts are most often detected through regular X-ray exams, according to the Dental Update article. A dental professional may investigate the cyst further using sensibility testing, cone beam computed tomography or a biopsy and examination of the cyst lining. These diagnostic tools allow the dental professional to identify the type of cyst and plan appropriate treatment.
Treatment varies depending on the type of cyst. Radicular cysts may be treated through a root canal procedure, reports the Dental Update article. Other times, the dental professional may choose to drain the cyst or remove it entirely.
A cyst in your jaw doesn't necessarily mean you have cancer or another dire condition, and your medical or dental professional will have the tools to treat it effectively. While you may not be able to prevent a cyst from forming, practicing a good oral hygiene routine and getting routine dental X-rays will ensure that any dental conditions are detected and treated early.