Oral Cyst Treatment Overview
Seeking prompt oral cyst treatment is usually the best way to prevent complications. Not all cysts need medical intervention. However, those that do require treatment tend to be easiest to address before they grow too large or become infected. Here are some of the ways oral cysts may be identified and reduced or removed.
Oral Cysts Diagnosis
Oral and dental cysts usually develop slowly over many months or years without causing any noticeable symptoms. Oral cysts are usually first identified during a dental visit. A cyst may show up as a round, dark area on a dental x-ray. It may be located near the root of an infected tooth or the crown of an impacted wisdom tooth. Or, a cyst in the mucous membranes may be visible as a blister or lesion in the interior of the mouth during a routine exam. An infected cyst (abscess) will cause symptoms like swelling, redness and pain in the affected area. A large cyst in the jaw may eventually start to shift teeth out of place or cause a visible bump on the jawbone itself.
A special type of x-ray called an orthopantogram (OPG) may be taken to view the entire mouth and jaw on a single film. This view puts the cyst in perspective in relation to surrounding structures including the gums, teeth and jawbone. Depending on the type, size and location of the cyst, additional tests and scans may be needed to rule out more serious possibilities (such as a tumor). An oral cyst may be biopsied to check the fluid and/or the lining of the cyst for abnormal cells. Most of the time, a cyst is found to be benign. However, since these pockets of fluid filled tissue can eventually grow large enough to damage the teeth and jaw, removal is recommended anyway.
Infected Oral Cyst Treatment
An abscessed cyst can cause serious complications if the bacterial infection spreads to surrounding tissues or into the bloodstream. Antibiotics are prescribed to help resolve the infection quickly. Pus and infected tissue may be removed to relieve pressure and decrease discomfort and swelling.
Oral Cyst Treatment: Drainage
With a cyst that is affecting the lining of the mouth, cheeks or lip, drainage may be all that’s needed to help the cyst resolve itself. This treatment involves opening the mucous cyst with a small incision and letting the fluid drain out. Since these cysts usually heal without intervention anyway, drainage simply speeds up the process.
What about cysts in the jaw or gums? Repeated drainage with a needle or incision is sometimes the first step in treating larger dental and oral cysts in preparation for removal. Draining a large cyst can help shrink it to a more manageable size so it can be removed with less damage to the surrounding tissue. Simply removing the fluid may not be sufficient treatment over the long term since the cyst can fill back up again. A process called “marsupialization” is sometimes used to permanently open a cyst so that it drains and can’t reform. This operation involves cutting the cyst open, removing a piece of the cyst wall and suturing the remaining tissue so the cyst lies flat with the surrounding tissue.
Oral Cyst Treatment: Excision
Most oral cysts can be removed surgically by a dentist, oral and maxillofacial surgeon, or otolaryngologist. The goal of treatment is to relieve the pressure be deflating the cyst and eliminate the lining that forms the outer sac of the cyst to help prevent recurrence. Ideally, this is done without damaging any teeth or the surrounding nerves.
However, sometimes removing part or all of a tooth is advisable during treatment. For example, dentigerous cysts often occur near an un-erupted wisdom tooth. The third molar and cyst are usually removed at the same time in this case. A periapical cyst may form near an infected tooth as bacteria cause inflammation and irritation. This condition may require the removal of the tip of the tooth root (apicoectomy) in addition to a root canal.
A small cyst may be removed via a surgical procedure called "enucleation." This simply means the cyst is taken out whole rather than being cut open or removed in sections. Mucosal cysts that are on or near the surface of the mucous membranes in the mouth may be removed with cryosurgery (freezing) or lasers. Depending on the type, size and location of a dental cyst in the jaw, the cyst may need to be scraped out (curettage) or cut up (resected). These are usually outpatient procedures done under local anesthetic. In rare cases, a large cyst may require a bone graft to fill in the hole left after removal.