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In the development of permanent teeth, occasionally the body may form a sack of clear fluid around the crown, usually in the lower jaw, also known as the mandible. It is usually not painful, but it may expand. This cyst is called a dentigerous cyst, which is the most common odontogenic development cyst.

What Is It?

Also called a follicular cyst, this cyst is usually associated with the crown of a permanent tooth nearby, and most of the time can be found near a lower wisdom tooth. Of all the cysts that are found in the mandible, about 20 percent of them are of this type,

What Do They Look Like? How Are They Found?

Since most of this type of cyst is found in and around wisdom teeth, it can be identified by panoramic dental images. Panoramic radiographs may be taken in the late teen years when a dentist is monitoring the eruption of wisdom teeth or in the early teen years during an orthodontic consultation. The cysts are usually smooth in shape, somewhat circular, and may look completely separate from the tooth adjacent to it. In some cases, the tooth is part of the cyst and is removed as part of the process to remove the cyst.

What Dental Professional Should You Visit?

General dentists do not remove a dentigerous cyst unless they have had special surgical training through a hospital residency program. The most common doctor to refer this case to is an oral surgeon, since oral surgeons frequently encounter many types of cysts while removing wisdom teeth. The most complicated cases begin with reducing the size of and draining the cyst. Then, the body will produce bone to fill in the space, or the surgeon can place a bone product in the area to aid in the healing of the surgical site.

What Is the Treatment and Recovery Like?

As with all types of surgery procedures associated with wisdom teeth and removal of bone tissue, the healing period can be anywhere from a week to a few months, depending on the severity and size of the cyst. It usually only requires one procedure, but may involve post-surgical visits. Dental images may be taken to check the progress of the healing. The surgeon may suggest that you swish with a mouthwash to kill any lingering bacteria.

In summary, detection of and surgical treatment of dentigerous cysts isn’t uncommon among adults, especially those who have unerupted or partially erupted wisdom teeth that have not yet removed. These cysts can be treated and the patient can return to their everyday activities and eating soon after resolution of the problem.