Jaw Tumors and Cysts

What are Jaw Tumors and Cysts?

Tumors and cysts grow from existing tissue. They can either be benign or cancerous tumors and cysts. Since the jaw is composed of multiple types of tissues, the area is more susceptible to growing cysts and tumors. The jaw is composed of the following types of tissue:

  • bones
  • muscles
  • glands
  • mucosa

Jaw tumors and cysts can affect anyone. There are a number of risk factors that have been found to attribute to the development of jaw cysts. These risk factors are alcohol and tobacco use, poor oral hygiene, ill fitting dentures, rough or jagged edges on teeth, and poor nutrition.

What are the Symptoms of Jaw Tumors and Cysts?

Depending on the exact location of the tumor or cyst, your symptoms may vary.

Symptoms include

  • Reddish patches in the mouth, called erythrolasia
  • White patches in the mouth, called leukoplakia
  • Sore throat that does not heal over a few weeks. The areas of the throat may bleed easily.
  • The feeling of a lump or thickened portion of tissue.
  • Sore throat that becomes chronic. Usually this sore throat comes with hoarseness.
  • Difficulty in chewing or swallowing.

Jaw Tumors and Cysts Causes

There are a number of different types of jaw tumors and cysts. Some of these are malignant, but most are benign. There are similar causes among the various types of jaw tumors and cysts.

Tobacco use is one of the primary causes of jaw tumors. This includes smoking cigarettes, but the use of smokeless tobacco products puts one at exceptionally high risk for jaw tumor and mouth cancer development.

Excessive alcohol use is a known cause of jaw tumors. More than four alcoholic drinks per day may lead to cancer development in the jaw or other areas of the body.

While not a direct cause of jaw tumors, poor oral hygiene definitely plays a role in jaw cyst development. Poor oral hygiene leads to irritation in the mouth as well as mouth infections. Cysts frequently occur around areas of mouth irritation. This includes irritation from dentures that rub the gums because they do not fit properly.

Some types of jaw tumors have a genetic cause. This is particularly true of jaw tumors known as odontomas. Nevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome is a genetic cause for keratocystic odontogenic jaw tumors.

How are Jaw Tumors and Cysts Treated?

The treatment for jaw tumors and cysts will depend on a number of factors. The first factor taken into consideration is whether the abnormal tissue that is present is malignant or benign. If the tumor is benign, it can simply be removed. However, if the growth is malignant, your doctor will schedule you for surgery that is followed up by chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

After it is determined that all malignant cells are gone, your doctor will test frequently to ensure that the cancer does not return.

Jaw Tumors and Cysts Prevention

One of the best ways to prevent the occurrence of jaw tumors and cysts is to never use any type of tobacco products. Especially avoid smokeless tobacco. Help is available from medical professionals for those who are having difficulty giving up tobacco product use.

Practicing good oral hygiene is an important preventative measure. Everyone should brush their teeth at least twice each day, and floss at least once each day. See a dentist every six months for cleaning. These cleaning times are a good opportunity for dentists to do an oral examination to check for growths that may lead to jaw tumors or cysts.