All About Wisdom Teeth And Dentigerous Cysts

While some people's jaws can support incoming wisdom teeth, many patients do not have space in the alveolar ridge and require oral surgery. There are many benefits of wisdom tooth removal, such as reducing pain from impacted teeth and preventing decay/gum issues. Wisdom teeth may also need to be removed if they are causing dentigerous cysts to form. Dentigerous cysts are fluid-filled sacs that form on the gumline over semi-erupted or unerupted wisdom teeth. Take a look at how these cysts are diagnosed, why they are an issue, and how your dentist can treat them.

How are They Diagnosed?

Some patients may not even realize they have a cyst because it's so small. During consultations for wisdom tooth removal, dentists will be able to see any cyst formations on dental x-rays. There are other types of cysts besides dentigerous ones, so your dentist may also order an MRI or a CT scan to rule out other types of cysts, such as periapical cysts (a cyst caused by the death of pulp tissue in the tooth). Besides ordering imaging tests, your dentist will go over any symptoms you have to make a diagnosis since larger dentigerous cysts can cause swelling and tooth sensitivity.

Do They Need to Be Removed?

If a cyst is small and not causing any symptoms, you may wonder if it needs to be removed. Your dentist may want to monitor the cyst, but there are some very good reasons to have it removed. Untreated dentigerous cysts can increase the risk of infection and tooth loss. Dentigerous cysts can also displace teeth into ectopic positions. Ectopic teeth will eventually erupt somewhere they shouldn't, such as a second molar erupting in a first-molar location. If a dentigerous cyst is in the upper jaw, it can displace some teeth into the sinuses.

The good news is that if you are undergoing oral surgery to have your wisdom teeth removed, your dentist can remove the cyst at the same time, so there is no need to schedule another surgery.

How Are They Removed?

If the cyst is small, then it is removed at the same time as the impacted tooth through enucleation. Enucleation is a process where the cyst is removed in one go and it comes out of the cystic capsule. This process reduces the risk of a recurring cyst. However, some cysts may be large or abnormally shaped, so enucleation may not be possible. In those cases, your dentist may use a technique called marsupialization, where he or she will cut into the cyst to let it drain. Once the cyst has drained, your dentist will place stitches around the edge of the incision to keep it from closing back up. Keeping the cyst open allows fluid to continue to drain and prevents the formation of an abscess.  

Reach out to a dentist today to find answers to your questions before an upcoming oral surgery.