An ossifying fibroma (sometimes called a cemento-ossifying fibroma) is one of the rare, non-cancerous tumors that can occur in the jawbones. The term "ossifying" refers to the transformation of a material into bony tissue, and fibromas are non-cancerous tumors. Understanding more about how your teeth fit into your bones can help you visualize where and how this kind of tumor develops in the jaw. With the help of your dental or medical professional, you can get treatment for these abnormal growths in your jawbones.
How Ossifying Fibromas Form
It's easier to picture this tumor when you realize that a tooth is not connected directly to the jawbone but rather suspended in the socket by a membrane of soft tissue called the periodontal ligament. According to a report in the Pan African Medical Journal, ossifying fibromas are a slow growing mass that form when cells in the periodontal ligament contain various amounts of calcified tissue. It is more frequently seen in the mandibular jaw bone. Dentists don't fully understand why this happens, but as the tissue grows, portions of the mass begin to calcify (or harden) in an irregular manner. The tissue of the tumor can resemble cementum, which is the protective outer layer of your tooth roots, or bone.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
Ossifying fibromas in the jaws can develop in patients of any age, but as the Pan African Medical Journal report explains, they are more common among those in their twenties and thirties and also occur more frequently in women. Usually, they appear in the molar area of the lower jaw, though they may also occur in the upper jaw. A more aggressive form of the tumor can occur in children, usually from ages 2 through 15, according to a report in the Journal of Dental & Allied Sciences. When found in children, the tumors typically affect the upper jaw or the bones around the sinus areas.
Ossifying fibromas may cause swelling in the face, which is often painless and asymptomatic, notes the Pan African Medical Journal report. These tumors usually grow slowly and may gradually displace the teeth or even result in facial asymmetry — though this is rare. If you notice any kind of facial swelling, see your medical or dental professional as soon as possible so they can help you determine the source of the issue.
Your provider will take X-rays to determine the exact location of the tumor and confirm a diagnosis. These tumors are generally well defined, having a clear outline around their perimeter. However, the X-ray appearance can differ depending on the tumor's stage of development and how much of the mass has calcified.
Treatment for an ossifying fibroma will usually require surgical excision, which will allow your surgeon to remove the tumor completely from the tissue, according to a report in the International Journal of Preventive and Clinical Dental Research (IJPCDR). Larger tumors may require a more involved procedure to reconstruct the affected bone. After healing, your general dentist will help you determine if any additional dental treatment will be needed to restore or replace any affected teeth.
Removing the ossifying fibroma generally resolves any issues it caused. The rate of recurrence has been estimated to be up to 28 percent for adults, according to the IJPCDR report. In cases affecting children, the recurrence rate can be significantly higher, notes the Journal of Dental & Allied Sciences report . For these reasons, it is imperative to see your medical or dental professional for periodic follow-ups to monitor the site. As with most other dental issues, early diagnosis and appropriate treatment will help you get your mouth healthy again.