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Soft Tissue Cysts and Tumors


A tumor is a growth caused by an overproduction of cells, and a cyst is fluid-filled cavity. Cysts are distinguished from tumors because they form from a membrane called the epithelium. A range of very different cysts or tumors can form in the soft tissue of the maxillofacial region. They can differ in a number of features, including their color, size, shape, and whether they grow quickly or slowly.

The most frequent soft-tissue cysts in the maxillofacial region are called "periapical" cysts. They are usually caused by an infection in the tooth that spreads to the tooth's pulp (the soft tissue near the root). The infection causes changes in the epithelial tissue, which leads to the formation of a cyst.

Another not uncommon soft tissue growth is a pregnancy tumor. Pregnancy tumors are benign growths that usually form near the gum-line. They tend to occur in the later stages of pregnancy (the second and third trimester), and to disappear after birth. If removed surgically, they may come back.

Symptoms

Some cysts and tumors have no physical symptoms and grow very slowly, so they may only be discovered during routine dental examinations. Others can cause pain, bleeding, inflammation, or irritation, and can interfere with other tissues.

Diagnosis

Soft tissue cysts and tumors are diagnosed by visual examination and with a biopsy.

Treatment

Periapical cysts generally go away after root canal treatment in the tooth involved. If not, they may need to be surgically removed, as there is a small chance of malignant cells forming in them.

Treatment for other kinds of cysts and tumors is dependent on the diagnosis. Many may have to be surgically removed. Some may be left untreated, but will probably need to be monitored to watch for the appearance of possible malignant cells.

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