Odontogenic Cysts And Children: Advice For Parents

11 September 2015
 Categories: Dentist, Articles


A cyst is an abnormal growth that can occur in several parts of the body. These blister-like growths normally fill with fluid and can vary in size. Odontogenic cysts are growths that occur while the teeth are developing. Find out what causes these cysts and learn more about the dental treatment your child may need to get rid of the problem.


Odontogenesis is the scientific name given to the biological process that allows your teeth to form. The process includes five key stages, after which a typical person should have a full set of healthy adult teeth. Odontogenesis is a complex process, and many factors can cause complications. For example, if too much tissue (dental lamina) starts to develop in a tooth, a condition called hyperdontia can occur, where an extra tooth forms. Odontogenic cysts are another common side effect of this process.

Types of odontogenic cyst

Pediatric dentists see several types of odontogenic cyst. These include:

  • Dentigerous cysts are the most common type of odontogenic cyst and occur in the crown of an impacted, embedded or unerupted tooth.
  • Primordial cysts appear before the enamel or dentin develops in any tooth.
  • Eruption cysts occur in younger children and form a translucent, painless swelling over the tooth.
  • Odontogenic keratocytes often develop in the jaw due to another underlying medical condition like nevoid basal cell carcinoma.

Odontogenic cysts are normally benign (non-cancerous). Non-odontogenic cysts can also occur in the jaw bone. Scientists don't know what causes these cysts, but they can also cause dental problems. For example, a large non-odontogenic cyst could weaken your child's jaw.


Surprisingly, a lot of odontogenic cysts don't cause any symptoms, and you may never even notice that your child has one. Most commonly, pediatric dentists spot these growths during a routine examination or when your child has an X-ray. Some cysts form highly visible symptoms, and if there is swelling, your child may experience pain or discomfort. Stay vigilant for obvious clues in young children. For example, your child may continually play with or touch a particular problematic tooth.

Treatment options

The treatment options available for your child vary according to the size and location of the cyst, as well as the type of growth. Some cysts disappear without treatment, but your child's dentist will still monitor the growth's progress.

Dentists will normally surgically remove a primordial cyst.  As part of this process, the dentist will often have to remove part of the bone. If the affected bone quantity is significant enough, bone reconstruction surgery is sometimes necessary.

Where a cyst grows in a developing tooth, your dentist will want to use a treatment method that doesn't interfere with the odontogenic process. For example, surgery on a dentigerous cyst will get rid of the growth, but your child may then lose one of his or her adult teeth. As such, pediatric dentists often use a process called marsupialization.

Marsupialization is a surgical process where the dentist cuts a slit into the cyst and sutures the edges of the slit. This process creates a single, continuous surface on the cyst, allowing the site to stay open. In turn, this allows the cyst to drain, without interrupting the growth of any surrounding teeth. This type of treatment is particularly effective for a cyst that the dentist would otherwise have to drain several times.

Risks and complications

A swollen, tender cyst could suggest that an infection has set in. In this case, the dentist may need to prescribe antibiotics to prevent further problems. Left untreated, odontogenic cysts can cause dental developmental problems. For example, a large cyst could weaken the bone and tissue in the jaw, causing problems with your child's teeth. Cells within odontogenic cysts can also occasionally become malignant.

Odontogenic cysts are common in children. While these growths don't always cause obvious symptoms, it's important to see a pediatric dentist, like one at Apollo Dental Center, for more advice, as complications could cause developmental issues in your child's teeth.