What are benign jaw cysts and tumours?

Cysts in the jaw are fluid-filled sacs that are benign. They expand with time, which causes adjacent structures to be compressed, eroded or displaced.

Benign jaw tumours are solid growths which also expand with time. Benign jaw tumours similarly cause problems due to continued growth in the facial skeleton, which houses many critical structures.

Why should I seek treatment?

If these jaw cysts and tumours are not treated early, they can continue to grow to enormous sizes. This expansion can erode adjacent teeth and bone, causing loss of teeth or jaw fractures. Severe cases may even cause loss of the entire jaw. Pain and infection can occur in the long run.

Patients can also present with aesthetic deformity of the face due to expansion of the underlying bone. If left to grow to a large size, these cysts and tumours can have a higher recurrence rate, even with complete treatment. In very rare cases, some benign tumours can also turn cancerous.

What are the treatment options?

Treatment approaches vary depending on the size and involvement of the cyst or tumour. A biopsy may be performed whereby a small sample is taken from the cyst or tumour to determine the type and nature of the lesion. Following this, surgery to remove the growth from within the bone is commonly required.

Additional removal of bone, treatment with chemicals or cryotherapy may be required. Special approaches may be required for large cysts, such as marsupialization, which involves making a small hole in the cyst to allow shrinkage with time. Very large cysts will require surgery to remove entire sections of the jaw bone. The missing section of bone will then require reconstruction to replace bone and teeth.

Discuss with your surgeon to decide which treatment is best for you.

What to expect after treatment?

The follow-up of this group of patients depends on the treatment rendered.

Patients who underwent resection surgeries may need to undergo a period of therapy and rehabilitation to regain functions such as talking, chewing, and swallowing. The patients will be supported by allied health professionals such as speech therapists, physiotherapists, dieticians, and occupational therapists to assist in their recovery.

Patients with benign cysts and tumours, which are locally aggressive and persistent, will need to be reviewed periodically after treatment to detect any recurrence.