An odontoma is a type of benign tumor that normally grows within the jaw. Doctors don't really understand why these growths occur, and although these tumors may not cause serious harm, the condition may mean that you have to undergo a simple form of surgery to avoid damage to your permanent teeth. Learn more about who is at risk of an odontoma, and find out how a dentist may need to treat this condition.
How an odontoma forms
Doctors and dentists don't really understand why an odontoma forms, but experts believe that the condition probably occurs following trauma or an infection. Other possible causes could include genetics, and it's possible that some people inherit the condition from their parents. For example, people with Gardener Syndrome sometimes also develop an odontoma.
There are two main types of odontoma:
- A complex odontoma is generally unrecognizable as a tooth structure, and simply appears as an opaque mass.
- A compound odontoma still has the three main dental tissues, but often appears as a large lobulated mass, inside which you may sometimes find tiny toothlets or denticles that resemble normal teeth.
Although an odontoma is a type of tumor, the tissue is benign, which means that it will not normally become cancerous. In fact, dentists often discuss this condition as a type of hamartoma, which is simply an abnormal growth (in this case) of dental tissue.
An odontoma will normally develop in children and young teens, as the problem generally occurs when the primary teeth form. A complex odontoma can also affect adults, and research shows that the condition can affect both men and women.
60 percent of compound odontomas form in the canine area, and a similar proportion of complex odontomas form in the molars.
An odontoma will not normally cause any pain or discomfort. Sometimes, the growth may inhibit tooth development, which may eventually cause some irritation, but dentists generally only spot the condition when they take a routine dental X-ray.
Nonetheless, other dental problems may point to a problematic odontoma. For example, the condition can sometimes stop a primary tooth erupting properly. The bone underneath a tooth may also feel enlarged or swollen, and a large lump in your gum may also suggest that you have one of these growths. If you're unsure, you should always ask your dentist to have a closer look.
Before a dentist can decide how to treat an odontoma, he or she will normally need to take X-rays and/or a CT scan. These diagnostics allow the dentist to see what is inside the growth. He or she can then prepare an appropriate treatment plan. For example, a larger odontoma may extend into the nasal cavity, which could make surgery more complex and risky.
The only treatment option available is surgical removal of the growth. Early discovery and diagnosis normally makes this process easier, and dentists normally find it quite easy to remove these growths without any complications. What's more, the condition is unlikely to return after a dentist removes the tumor.
An odontoma patient can sometimes present highly irregular symptoms. In 2014, an Indian dentist examined a patient who had suffered painful symptoms for around 18 months, due to a swelling in his lower jaw. When the dentist examined the patient, he discovered multiple denticles inside the growth, which he proceeded to remove. In the end, the dentist removed a record-breaking number of toothlets – 232 in all. In this patient's case, the odontoma had extended deep in the lower jaw, allowing hundreds of these structures to form.
Once a dentist removes an odontoma, he or she will also often need to surgically correct any adjacent teeth. In around 53 percent of cases, a dentist will remove impacted teeth, but orthodontics and surgical repositioning are also sometimes possible treatment options.
An odontoma is an unusual type of growth that generally affects young teens during primary tooth development. Talk to your family dentist for more information and advice. For more information, consider a website like http://www.vfdental.com.