What is Ameloblastoma?

Ameloblastoma is a benign and rare tumor that most often develops within the jaw, close to the molars. It will start off within the cells that are responsible for forming the enamel that lines the teeth.

This type of tumor is more common in men than in women, and it can develop at any age, though it is most often seen in adults who are in their 30s or 40s.

Although benign, this tumor could be aggressive and grow into the jawbone, resulting in pain and swelling. The occurrence of metastases and the transformation from benign to malignant are highly unlikely but may occur. In fact, even if it is not common, it is possible that these tumors can progress into cancer and the cells could spread to other parts of the body and face.

It is not clear what causes an ameloblastoma to form, though infections of the gums or teeth, injuries to the jaw or mouth, or inflammation in the jaw could be to blame. It is also suspected that viral infections or a lack of minerals or protein in the diet could also lead to the growth of an ameloblastoma.

What are the Symptoms of Ameloblastoma?

Ameloblastoma will result in the development of an abnormal growth within the jaw or the sinus area, usually in the area of the third molar.

The progression of an ameloblastoma is generally slow. It is often associated with the presence of unerupted teeth (such as wisdom teeth) and while the tumor grows, other symptoms may occur including ulcers in the mouth, gingivitis and periodontitis (gum disease), and loose teeth.

The growth may be so severe that it results in distortions in the face.

Symptoms include

  • Lose teeth
  • Mouth sores
  • Mouth pain
  • Abnormal growths
  • Tissue growth
  • Lesions near mouth
  • Painless swelling

Ameloblastoma Causes

Medical professionals could not pinpoint in detail the causes of ameloblastoma, nor why most cysts are malignant. In 91% of all cases of ameloblastoma (the solid type), the tumors are benign and the cysts grow at a slow pace. According to many case studies, doctors diagnosed this disease in more men than women. Also, a specific set of genes could play a role to determine if a cyst will eventually develop inside the body at some point in your life.

One way you can get this rare disease is if you don’t eat the proper foods to get enough vitamins for your body to function correctly. Tumors could develop around the gums or teeth, depending on your diet. You may not eat foods that are high enough in protein and minerals. For that reason, inflammation could start the beginning stages of a virus inside the body. Some doctors will perform a biopsy, so that their patients would not get any unnecessary operations on a lesion.

How is Ameloblastoma Treated?

In order to prevent further growth of the tumor, ameloblastoma has to be diagnosed as soon as possible and treated early.

Surgery will be necessary to remove the tumor and prevent recurrence.

Ameloblastoma Prevention

You could get the ameloblastoma trait from birth. Early detection is the only way to prevent ameloblastoma. If you have the opportunity to visit a doctor to get examined for a medical screening, early detection may also prevent others from getting a diagnosis of this unusual tumor. Unfortunately, if you live in a developing country, healthcare facilities are limited. Therefore by the time you receive treatment from a doctor, the size of the lesion is huge.

Doctors will look at the appearance of the tumor to determine its size, the location, the age of the person and the type of ameloblastoma to decide how much of a psychological impact this disease will have on your life. If a doctor can determine the type of ameloblastoma, then the possibility of a tumor recurring decreases. The recurrence of a cyst is based on the type of surgical procedure performed by the doctor.

Last Reviewed:
September 12, 2016
Last Updated:
November 07, 2017
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