Jaw tumors and cysts


Jaw tumors and cysts (of both odontogenic or non-odontogenic origin) occurs in the jawbone or in the soft structures of the mouth and face. These are mostly non-cancerous (benign) but can be locally destructive depend on size and severity.

The treatment can be different based on its type, stage and symptoms. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons can remove jaw tumor or cyst as treatment, or by the use of medication, or a combination of both.


The difference between a tumor and cyst is that a tumor is an abnormally growing mass of tissue while a cyst contains a fluid or semifluid material inside. These are the types of jaw tumors and cysts:

  • Ameloblastoma. This benign tumor develops in the lining of the enamel of the teeth, usually in the jaw around the molar. Aggressive surgery can remove this tumor to lessen the chance of recurrence.
  • Central giant cell granuloma. They are benign lesions that develop from the cells of the bone commonly found in the front lower jaw. There are two types, an aggressive one that can grow fast, painful, damage the bone and may recurrent while the other type is less aggressive and may be asymptomatic. Surgical treatment may remove this tumor.
  • Dentigerous cyst.  This is a common cyst affecting the jaw. It starts in the tissue around a tooth, usually on the wisdom tooth, before erupting in the mouth.
  • Odontogenic keratocyst. Because of its tendency to return following surgical treatment, this cyst is also known as a keratocystic odontogenic tumor. This cyst usually grows slowly, if left untreated for an extended length of time, it can potentially harm the jaw and teeth. The cyst typically appears in the lower jaw, close to the third molars. These cysts may also be seen in people with nevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome, an inherited disorder.
  • Odontogenic myxoma. Is rare benign tumor of the jaw. The tumor may be big, aggressively infiltrate the jaw and the tissue around, and push out the teeth. These tumors are known to return following surgical intervention; however, more invasive surgical approaches often reduce the likelihood of tumor recurrence.
  • Odontoma. The majority of odontogenic tumors are benign and show no symptoms, yet they can obstruct tooth emergence or development. Dental tissue that develops around a tooth in the jaw forms odontomas. They could be a little or large calcified growth, or they might resemble an irregularly shaped tooth. Some genetic disorders may include these tumors as a component.
  • Other types of cysts and tumors. These include cementoblastoma, aneurysmal bone cyst, ossifying fibroma, osteoblastoma, calcifying epithelial odontogenic tumor, glandular odontogenic cyst, squamous odontogenic tumor, and calcifying odontogenic cyst and central odontogenic fibromas.

Consult your doctor or dentist if you suspect that you have jaw tumor or cyst.

There are usually no symptoms manifested by jaw tumors or cysts and they can only be seen when you undergo an X-ray for another condition. If you are diagnosed with a jaw cyst or tumor, or just suspects it, you may be referred to a specialist for proper diagnosis and treatment.


Jaw tumors and cysts that starts from tissues and cells involved in normal tooth growth are known as odontogenic. Other tumors that affect the jaws may be nonodontogenic, which means that they may arise from cells of the bone or soft tissues inside the jaws rather than the teeth. Jaw tumors and cysts typically have unknown causes, but some of them have been linked to hereditary disorders or gene alterations (mutations).

Lack of a gene that controls tumor growth causes nevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome, also known as Gorlin-Goltz syndrome which is heritable. Multiple odontogenic keratocysts within the jaws, numerous basal cell skin malignancies, and other symptoms are brought on by this condition.