What is a Dental Cyst & How is it Treated?

Dental Cyst 3D Rendering

A dental cyst is a closed-off cavity filled with semi-solid or liquid material. Cysts commonly establish themselves in the soft tissues of the mouth & face such as the gums, lips and even in the space surrounding a tooth that has yet to emerge from the jaw bone. These growths are usually noncancerous (benign), but they can be aggressive and cause issues for bordering bone & tissues.

Oral cysts tend to start off as uninfected growths, but the inflammatory nature of a cyst starts to take hold when the pulp of the tooth dies and swelling erupts. As the size of the cyst grows, a severe amount of pressure can be applied to the bone tissue of the jeopardized tooth. This can gnaw away at the tooth’s bone structure & subsequently compromise it in a way where it may need to be removed.

Dental Cyst Symptoms

An uninfected dental cyst may not exhibit any signs or symptoms of its presence at all. When the cyst grows to a noticeable size, general symptoms can include:

  • Pain
  • Pressure
  • Inflammation & Redness

If the cyst lies in the mucosal tissues of the mouth, it may seem similar to a sore or blister. Consequently, unless your cyst has enlarged to the point where a lump has actually formed that shows up or can be really felt, it will generally just be noticeable by a diagnostic scan or x-ray.

Dental Cyst Complications

When left untreated, a dental cyst can result in part of the jaw having to be removed or cause other major health issues that negatively impact overall well-being. Even the smallest cysts that may not be causing any current symptoms should be removed as they can eventually lead to:

Treatment of Dental Cysts

Treatment of dental cysts differs based on their size and location. If it’s small enough, your dentist might be able to surgically remove it whole without damaging the surrounding tissue of the affected tooth. In other cases, they may utilize a surgical technique called marsupialization, which entails cutting open the cyst so it can drain and then stitching the laceration to keep it open, which can stop future cysts from growing there. A root canal treatment may be necessary for teeth that have suffered unrecoverable damage from the growth of an oral cyst.

Before deciding on a plan of action for treating a dental cyst, we always recommend getting a CT scan of the mouth so your dentist can get a clear-cut image of the situation and create an appropriate treatment plan.

Types of Dental Cysts

Dentigerous Cyst: Form close to or on top of the crown of an un-erupted wisdom tooth. Wisdom teeth extraction is often done in the teen years to prevent this type of health issue from developing.

Dentigerous oral cyst

Periapical Cyst (Radicular Cyst): An oral cyst that typically forms at the base of a tooth as a result of pulp infection or death of the nerve. A periapical cyst could potentially become an abscess.

Periapical Cyst

Mucocele (Mucous Cyst): This type of cyst usually creates in the soft cells areas of your mouth, inner cheek, lip, tongue. They generally form because of a trauma or irritability to the tissues in the influenced areas. If you have one, you would likely notice that it reoccurs and that it could release saliva sometimes.

Mucocele (mucuous cyst) graphic

Odontogenic Cysts: Are a collection of dental cysts (in addition to the periapical and dentigerous cysts formerly listed) that are frequently discovered in the jawbone. These type of dental cysts are reasonably rare developments, but they often grow to larger sizes because they are buried in the bone & can be much harder to discover.

Odontogenic Cyst

Dental Cyst Causes

Dental Cysts generally begin to form at the tip of the root of a dying or dead tooth, but there are many ways in which they can appear.

Cysts can develop as a result from:

  • Inappropriate positioning of permanent teeth.
  • Atypical tooth development.
  • A Complication of a root canal treatment.
  • A Complication of Gorlin’s disorder or other hereditary disorders. Individuals with nevoid basal cell cancer syndrome, likewise called Gorlin-Goltz syndrome, lack a gene that subdues growths. This syndrome leads to the growth of multiple odontogenic keratocysts within the jaws, multiple basic cell skin cancers cells and also various other features.
  • The development of wisdom teeth.
  • Mutation in cells that are involved in normal tooth growth.

Dental Cyst FAQs

Can an oral cyst be treated at home?

Depending on the severity of symptoms being exhibited by a cyst in the mouth, it can be possible to treat it at home with antibiotics rather than surgery. But in most cases where a cyst is bothersome enough to be brought to a dentist in the first place, the most common treatment is a combination of surgery and antibiotics. For cysts that are deep within the jaw bone, there is often very little other option than to operate.
You should always consult your dentist if you suspect there is a cyst in your mouth to get advice on the best treatment options for your specific case.

Is the cyst removal process painful?

Removing a dental cyst with surgery is almost never painful as the area is locally numbed or the patient is asleep during the operation. In more extreme cases, teeth may need to be pulled during the cyst removal, so there may be pressure and some pain involved if it is deemed necessary during treatment.

How long is the recovery process after dental cyst removal?

Unless multiple teeth and jawbone tissue had to be removed along with the cyst, healing of the gums and surrounding tissue after the cyst has been removed takes just a couple of weeks in most cases.

Prevention of Dental Cysts

Staying on top of your oral hygiene habits and making sure to at least see your dentist bi-annually are huge steps in preventing dental cysts and a large number of other common dental problems. Dental cysts can affect anyone, but they are much more rare in those with better oral hygiene habits. Teeth that remain healthy hardly ever have cysts growing near or around them.

The state of your dental health can have a huge effect on your overall well-being. Visit your dentist regularly to ensure that you stay on top of your oral care.

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Lamont Yvon
22:50 15 Mar 18
I have had a lot of procedures including 8 implants. There is no better dentist office than Carson and Carson. Dr. Derek Carson (the son of Dr. Leroy Carson) is FANTASTIC! He has learned well from his father (who still works there). Papa is the MAN!, and has been for years. Insane amount of knowledge. The Doctors are THE BEST! The support staff is fun and professional always. I will never go anywhere else.
Ana Castellanos
04:37 06 Aug 22
Excellent service. Dr. Derek was the only emergency oral surgeon to respond, everything was done so fast and without pain. Highly recommended, Carmen is his amazing front office manager, she is highly professional and knowledgeable. I had very painful broken wisdom tooth removed. I can honestly say I have waited longer at the Starbucks Drive thru. Thank you!!!
Laura Lassiter
18:32 15 Mar 18
The BEST dental office in Ventura County!! Super friendly staff, easy to schedule appts, no issues with insurance processing, and Dr. Carson makes sure you are always comfortable and pain-free when getting any work done. I've been a patient for over 7 years now and I couldn't be happier! I highly recommend!