Cysts are lumps that are not cancerous. They usually consist of a membrane filled with fluid. Although cysts are benign, they can cause problems as they enlarge because they press on nearby tissues and structures.
Jaw cysts develop within the bones of the jaw and arise because of:
- A long-standing or recurring infection around the root of a tooth.
- A wisdom tooth that is impacted.
- Overgrowth of some of the cells from which teeth develop that remain in the jaw throughout adult life.
What symptoms does a jaw cyst cause?
Many jaw cysts cause no symptoms at all and you will be completely unaware that you have one. It may be discovered by chance if you have a dental X-ray.
Problems can arise when:
- A cyst grows and pushes against the roots of nearby teeth, making them loose.
- A cyst becomes infected. The whole cyst then becomes a type of abscess that is extremely painful.
- A cyst becomes very large and affects the jaw bone itself, increasing the risk of a jaw fracture.
Diagnosis of a jaw cyst
Although a jaw cyst may be detected by an X-ray, you will probably also need a CT scan before having any treatment to find exactly how big it is and where it is within the jaw.
Surgery to remove jaw cysts
If a jaw cyst is causing problems, the best treatment is often to remove it surgically. An incision is made from inside the mouth and some of the jaw bone may need to be removed. The cyst is then removed and sent for analysis.
Two options are available:
- Surgery under local anaesthetic, possibly with sedation.
- Day case surgery under general anaesthetic.