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Ameloblastoma: Definition, Symptoms, and Treatment

Suppose you notice an abnormal growth in your mouth, and your physician tells you it's ameloblastoma. You might be wondering, what does that mean, and is it serious? Read on to learn more about this odontogenic tumor and how your doctor can help you get the treatment you need.

What Is Ameloblastoma?

Ameloblastoma is a rare odontogenic tumor, which means it's formed from the normal tissues found in the mouth. Their location is predominately the lower jaw, also known as the mandible. Still, they can be found in the upper jaw or maxilla as well. Sometimes, ameloblastomas are located in the soft tissues surrounding the jaws. There is no known cause for this kind of tumor. However, it may be associated with impacted third molars. Ameloblastomas are usually noncancerous (benign), and they generally affect people between 40 and 60 years old.

Ameloblastoma Symptoms and Diagnosis

Ameloblastoma is usually painless, with the only symptom being swelling in the area. It is usually only identified on radiographic examination in a dental office. Early developing lesions do not displace teeth or cause numbness, so the patient may not know a tumor is growing in one of their jawbones. If a potential lesion is identified on a dental radiograph, more elaborate imaging is required. This will include a CAT scan and possibly an MRI. However, the diagnosis cannot be solely determined by imaging. It requires a biopsy to make the final diagnosis. Cysts will sometimes appear similar to the ameloblastoma on the imaging.

Some ameloblastomas are known to have malignant variants that are difficult to control locally. Metastases may occur, usually in the lung, but can spread through lymph nodes to other organs.

How Do You Treat Ameloblastoma?

Unfortunately, surgery is the only treatment to remove an ameloblastoma and prevent a recurrence. The procedure requires removing the healthy bone surrounding the tumor so that no tumor cells are left behind to allow it to regrow. Because the surgery must be performed aggressively, teeth will be extracted, and extensive hard and soft tissue plastic surgery reconstruction may be necessary. After the surgery, an opening into the upper jaw's sinuses requires the patient to wear a special denture known as an obturator. Unfortunately, recurrences are common even 10 to 20 years after surgery. Therefore, patients should be followed indefinitely and regularly evaluated for signs of changes to their mouth

To keep your oral and overall health in good shape, visit your dental professional regularly for oral health evaluations. Also, keep a watchful eye when you brush your teeth twice daily. Suppose you or your health care provider spot any abnormality. In that case, they can determine the cause and begin the necessary treatment to get you started on the road to recovery.

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This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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