Dental cyst and infection: Causes, symptoms and treatment

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Dental cyst and infection

Dental cysts are often the result of a problematic tooth or distressed gum tissues. These small pockets of fluid can sometimes be sterile or might contain infectious material. Dental cysts can be found around the roots of dead/infected teeth, within the gums, around impacted wisdom teeth, in your maxillary sinuses or within the jawbone.

If you do notice strange growths in your mouth and other issues with your dental health, do not hesitate to discuss these changes with your dentist. Getting early treatment could be detecting a serious health issue in an early stage or preventing further dental problems. The cause and severity of a dental cyst will determine the course of treatment.

What Is An Oral Cyst?


An oral cyst is a type of small growth that can occur in the mouth. It’s a small fluid-filled sac that feels like a little bump. These oral cysts are sometimes referred to as mucoceles or mucous cysts. In most cases, oral cysts may feel odd, but they are harmless.

Oral cysts are most common on the insides of the lips, but it’s also possible for oral cysts to form on the insides of your cheeks, your tongue, your palate, the floor of your mouth, and around any oral piercings that may be present.

Dental Cyst And Infection Causes

Dental cyst and infection causes

Usually cysts begin to form at the tip of the roots of a dead or dying tooth.

  • Some form because of the improper way a tooth-teeth have grown and positioned themselves in the mouth, others because of the abnormal way a tooth has developed
  • A root canal which has failed naturally or as a result of a botched procedure
  • Because of a genetic syndrome (Gorlin’s syndrome), if this is the case there will be other symptoms involved
  • Cysts can form around the crowns (and roots) of buried teeth. Wisdom teeththat are impacted (buried) are common causes for cyst formation
  • Because the teeth that are being affected by a cyst have died (trauma or infection), the root of the teeth was not treated or was treated incorrectly.

Dental cysts can form in relation to any of your teeth and usually they only occur one at a time, however, some people are more susceptible to them than others.

This is relative to the condition of their teeth or because they have an existing health issue that features dental cysts as one of the symptoms. Your family dentist should be able to explain to you in detail about the cause of your specific cyst.

What Problems Can Dental Cysts Cause?

What problems can dental cysts cause

Dental cysts may cause these problems:

  • Pain and/or swelling due to infection
  • Weakening of the jawbone from expansion of the cyst
  • Migration of teeth that are being pushed aside by the growing cyst
  • Breathing and sleep problems related to sinus issues.

Symptomless dental cysts can remain undetected for months or years.


Periapical Cyst (Odontogenic Cyst Or Radicular Cyst)

is the most common odontogenic cyst and has various names, including radicular cyst, apical periodontal cyst, root end cyst, or dental cyst.

The death or necrosis of the pulp tissue inside the tooth, which stems from tooth decay or trauma will cause this type of cyst. The process of pulpal necrosis causes inflammation and the release of toxins at the apex or end of the root tip.

Commonly treated by endodontic therapy. In case the endodontic treatment is not effective, the extraction of the tooth is used, the place of cyst is cleaned and filled with the artificial bone material.

Traditional methods were not effective enough as cysts used to form again. To avoid this the retrograde root canal filling should be used according to the most modern treatment methods.

Follicular Cyst Or Dentigerous Cyst 

most commonly found in the area of the lower wisdom teeth or the permanent upper canines, develop around the crown of an unerupted tooth. The pressure exerted by an erupting tooth on the follicle may cause the dentigerous cyst. This pressure can obstruct the blood flow and create an accumulation of fluid between the enamel membrane tissue and the coronal portion of the tooth. Dentigerous cysts usually grow and expand rapidly.

The extraction of the associated tooth and the surgical excision of the cyst. Treatment is often successful, the patient is recalled to watch for recurrance.

Keratocystic Odontogenic Tumors (KCOTs) 

Keratocystic Odontogenic Tumors are found mostly in the posterior area of the lower jaw or mandible and their characteristics are similar as other types of cysts. An precise diagnosis can be achieved just with biopsy and microscopic analysis, panoramic xray.

Swelling is often the only symptom a patient will experience. There are several theories surrounding the origin of the keratocyst. Some experts believe the cyst develops in the place the tooth should have. Others argue that the tumors arise from the lamina of impacted teeth.

surgical excision is used with additional treatment. The patient is monitored throughout his lifetime to check for evidence of recurrance.

How Do I Know If I Have A Dental Cyst?

A small dental cyst developing inside the jawbone may be visible on an X-ray. Larger cysts may cause a firm facial swelling to appear. Your teeth may also start migrating rapidly in the area affected by the cyst.

Confirmation of the cyst diagnosis is done from a tissue sample (biopsy) taken during surgical removal of the lesion. There are other tumours that may resemble cysts, but are treated very differently. Periodic dental x-rays are essential for identification of dental cysts and other bony abnormalities.

How Are Dental Cysts Treated?

How are dental cysts treated

There are two ways to treat a dental cyst:

  • Surgery – for the removal of all types of cysts or tumours.
  • Endodontic Therapy – This is done in conjunction with surgical removal if the cyst is associated with an infected root canal.

Surgical Removal Of Dental Cyst 

Step 1: Detection

Dental cysts are normally picked up during a routine examination,which includes dental x-rays. Your dentist may order a 3D CBCT scan that will provide more information about the cyst and its relationship with surrounding teeth and other structures (nerves, sinuses) within the bone.

Step 2: Pre-surgical Preparation

A few days before, a thorough scaling and polishing is done. An oral probiotic is also given to boost the numbers of beneficial bacteria in the saliva so that healing is smooth. If you require root canal treatment, this will be completed prior to the surgery.

Step 3: Removing The Cyst

Removing the cyst

The cyst is removed by oral surgeon through a window in the bone under a local anaesthetic. You may also choose to be sedated for the entire procedure to ensure an anxiety free experience.

If there is a tooth embedded within the cyst, it might also be removed. Bone grafting material may also be placed to fill the void left behind after the cyst is removed. Stitches will be placed in the gums afterward. These will be removed after a few days.

The excised tissue can be sent to a pathology lab to be identified under microscope. This is important for identifying other types of tumours that may resemble cysts .

Treating An Oral Cyst At Home

The best way to deal with an oral cyst is to simply leave it be and to practice proper oral hygiene, brushing after every meal and flossing at least once a night. These cysts safely rupture on their own, causing no serious side effects or complications.

Do not attempt to lance or rupture the cyst on your own. This could lead to unintended injury or even serious infection. Better to be safe than sorry.

How Can I Prevent Dental Cysts From Forming?

Teeth that remain alive, rarely have cysts develop next to them. If the nerves in a tooth die (as a result of an infection or trauma), it should be treated proffesionally to stop it becoming a source of infection. If this is successful, the tissues next to the root shouldn’t be stimulated to form a cyst (or an abscess). This is the reasons why the regular visits to the dentist are very important.

Sometimes, your dentist will be concerned that you might have a buried tooth. 3D i-CAT computer tomography is recommended for such cases for the possibility to check for the tooth position and state of health. This can either help to detect cysts when they are small and/or prevent the formation of cysts by removing the potential starting point.