Dental Cysts: Everything You Need to Know

In most cases, cysts located near teeth aren't a serious problem. However, since they grow in size and cause complications, they need to be treated.
Dental Cysts: Everything You Need to Know

Last update: 26 February, 2021

A dental cyst, also called an odontogenic cyst, is a benign condition that forms adjacent to a tooth. Dental cysts are usually easy to fix and occasionally cause damage to the tooth itself.

They’re cavities that may be filled with liquid or solid material and covered with a scaly layer. Despite being a benign lesion, as time goes on it can increase in size and may cause deformity in the area or even cause the teeth to move.

Therefore, we must always make sure to treat this issue. In addition, after discovering a dental cyst, it’s very important to determine what type of cyst it is and to rule out the possibility that it’s a tumor.

Types of dental cysts

We can distinguish two main groups of tooth cysts: developmental cysts and inflammatory cysts. In the former, epithelial remains proliferate due to unidentified stimuli. Inflammatory cysts arise in the lower epithelium due to inflammatory stimuli. Let’s see a bit more about all this.

A woman's teeth.
Tooth cysts can be developmental or inflammatory. Some occur in teeth that haven’t erupted and others in patients who have suffered from diseases such as periodontitis.

Developmental cysts

These are alterations that occur in teeth that haven’t yet erupted or are retained. Within these, we can find different types:

  • Gingival cysts: These are lumps that appear on the gum.
  • Dentigerous cysts: Cysts that only surround the crown of the tooth included.
  • Eruption cysts: They’re produced in the gum during the eruption of the tooth, they resolve on their own after the tooth appears in the mouth.
  • Lateral periodontal cyst: They appear on the side of the root of a tooth, they’re detected by means of an X-ray.

Inflammatory cysts

They’re caused by a previous infection, such as periodontitis. There are two types:

  • Radicular cyst: Located at the apex of the root of the tooth, it’s the most frequent of this group.
  • Paradental cyst: Located in front of or behind the affected tooth.

Symptoms of dental cysts

The symptomatology can vary greatly, some patients have no symptoms at all. If, over time, the cyst increases in size, it can displace teeth or even cause some teeth to fall out.

For this reason, you have to get regular check-ups at the dentist to control possible health issues, since only by undergoing radiographic control can its presence be discovered.


The normal treatment for this type of issue is the removal of the cyst, avoiding the need for exodontia of the affected tooth. If the cyst is attached to the tooth, the professional should evaluate the treatment depending on each case.

Endodontics or extraction of the tooth may be necessary. Dentists will always attempt endodontic treatment first in order to be as conservative as possible and to be able to keep the tooth in the mouth.

A woman at a dental check-up.
To combat dental cysts, your dentist may suggest endodontics. However, in severe cases, they may even have to extract the tooth.

Removal of the dental cyst

Removing the cyst is an outpatient treatment that specialists perform under local anesthesia in approximately 45 minutes. The dentist must completely clean the cyst so that it doesn’t happen again. This is fundamental as reoccurrence could lead to a malignant cyst. There are different procedures for cleaning the cyst:

  • Quisectomy: Removal of both the cyst capsule and its contents.
  • Marsupialization: The dentist cleans the contents of the cyst but leaves behind the capsule. Professionals don’t usually perform this treatment as it’s not as safe and doesn’t ensure complete removal of the cyst.

After removing the cyst, bone fills the empty space and it ossifies; it then heals without any issues whatsoever. If the cyst is malignant or corresponds to a tumor, the treatment must be different. If so, the dentist will have to thoroughly clean the area with a sufficiently wide safety margin to ensure a satisfactory cleaning.

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