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Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology, Surgical Treatment

Any cysts, tumors or other growths in the mouth, either in the soft tissues or in the jaws, must be examined by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. The surgeon will do a biopsy that can determine what kind of cyst or tumor you have.

While most such growths are not painful and very often not medically dangerous, they can interfere with normal bone or tissue structure, and can even change the alignment of the teeth. Also, even though a biopsy indicates they are not cancerous, benign cysts or tumors can occasionally become cancerous if they are left to continue to grow.

Treatment for a benign cyst or tumor depends on its type and its size. In many cases, the surgeon will advise removing a benign cyst or tumor. If your surgeon decides that removal is not necessary, the cyst or tumor will probably need to be monitored.

Benign Cysts and Tumors of Oral Soft Tissues

Several kinds of cysts can form in the gingival (gums) and other soft tissues of the mouth. The most common kind of soft tissue cyst is called a periapical cyst, or a radicular cyst. Periapical cysts are caused by an infection at the pulp of the tooth that leads to inflammation of nearby tissue. They form just below or near an infected tooth. Usually, they go away after root canal treatment in the tooth involved. If not, they may need to be surgically removed, as there is a small chance of malignant cells forming in them.

Benign Cysts and tumors of the Jaws

Cysts and tumors of the jaws can develop around impacted teeth, or in the jaw bone underlying the teeth. Like soft tissue cysts and tumors, some cysts and tumors of the jaws need to be surgically removed, as they can continue to grow and thus to weaken the jaw bone, making it more susceptible to fractures. Removal may involve cutting the area of the bone in which the cyst is located, and sometimes requires replacing the bone tissue with a small bone graft. One kind of bone cyst found in young adults, the simple bone cyst, often resolves by itself when it is manipulated with surgical instruments.

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