Overview: Cysts of the Jaws

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  • Cysts = pathological fluid filled cavities lined by epithelium
  • Cysts are the most common cause of chronic swellings of the jaws
  • Cysts are more common in jaws than any other bone
    • ∵ of many rests of odontogenic epithelium remaining in the tissues
    • Cysts formed from this epithelium = odontogenic cysts and they account for most cysts in the jaws

Typical Features of Jaw Cysts[edit | edit source]

  • Most jaw cysts behave similarly
  • Grow slowly and expansively
  • Differ mainly in relationship to teeth and radiographic features
    • In most cases, nature of cyst does not affect treatment
    • However it is particularly important to distinguish odontogenic keratocysts and unicystic ameloblastomas from other common cysts
      • These occasionally have identical radiographic appearances and diagnosis depends on histopathology
  • Key features of jaw cysts
    • Sharply defined radiolucencies with smooth borders
    • Fluid may be aspirated and thin walled cysts may be transilluminated
    • Grow slowly, displacing rather than resorbing teeth
    • Symptomless, unless infected and are frequently chance radiographic findings
    • Rarely large enough to cause pathologic fracture
    • Form comprehensible and fluctuant swellings if extended into soft tissues
    • Appear bluish when close to the mucosal surface
  • Odontogenic cysts affect the tooth bearing regions of the jaws
  • Most non-odontogenic cysts are developmental and form in the anterior maxilla

Frequency of Cysts of the Jaws[edit | edit source]

Type Incidence
Radicular Cyst 60-70%
Dentigerous Cyst 10-15%
Odontogenic Keratocyst 5-10%
Nasopalatine Cyst 5-10%
Lateral Periodontal Cyst <1%
Paradental Cyst <1%
Gingival Cyst <1%