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Jaw cysts are among the more common diseases in the mouth. “Still, most of them don't know about their illness, because it often doesn't cause pain. In many cases, we discover cysts by chance on X-rays, because there they appear as a dark spot in the jaw tissue, ”says Dr. Dr. Manfred Nilius, M. Sc., Specialist for oral, maxillofacial and facial plastic surgery and head of the Nilius practice clinic in Dortmund.
Threat to the jaw
Cysts are cavities in the jaw tissue filled with fluid or scar tissue, also called granulation tissue. They often form due to dead teeth or inflammation, but a disruption during tooth development can also be the cause. However, pain only arises when the bladder presses on the nerves of a tooth or becomes inflamed. “Nevertheless, a jaw cyst should be removed as soon as possible after it is discovered. Because if it is left untreated, it grows and displaces healthy jaw tissue, which in the worst case can lead to tooth loss, ”warns Dr. Nilius.
There are two different methods of treating a cyst. A so-called cystectomy is suitable for smaller tissue pockets. “This process means the surgical removal of the entire capsule. We gain access to the cyst through the oral cavity and peel it from the jawbone. We then fill the resulting hole with a bone substitute material and sew it back in, ”explains Dr. Nilius. For larger specimens, dentists open the bladder by cutting a small window in the tissue pocket. As a result, the liquid it contains runs off and the cavity gradually shrinks until the doctor can also remove the remaining cyst after a few weeks.
After an operation on the jaw, the affected area usually swells and causes slight pain. For the first few days, patients should be physically gentle and eat soft foods.