Pathologic Conditions: Cysts & Tumors

The mouth and jaw are comprised of bone, glands, mucosa and muscle that are vulnerable to abnormal growths such as a cyst or tumor. A person who uses tobacco products or alcohol is at risk of developing cysts and tumors.

There are additional risk factors:

  • Irritation caused by ill-fitting dentures
  • Poor nutrition
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Rough surfaces on teeth

Signs and symptoms of abnormalities in or around the jaw and teeth: 
  • A lump or thickening of the tissues
  • A sore that does not heal and bleeds easily
  • Chronic sore throat or hoarseness
  • Difficulty chewing and/or swallowing
  • Reddish patches known as erythroplasia
  • White and gray patches known as leukoplakia

Treating Oral Cysts and Tumors
Houston Methodist physicians and surgeons are experts in evaluating, diagnosing and treating cysts and tumors in and around the jaw, which may include both benign tumors and cysts or malignant tumors.

There are several tests that can determine what type of cysts and/or tumors are in and around the jaw and teeth. These include a biopsy, computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
  • During a biopsy, a small sample of the growth is removed and studied under a microscope to help make a diagnosis.
  • A CT scan is a test where a thin X-ray beam rotates around the patient, allowing a computer to analyze the data and create a cross-sectional image.
  • An MRI is a non-invasive procedure that uses magnets and radio waves to create clear, detailed images of the brain.

Once tests indicate whether the cyst or tumor is benign or malignant, your physician will determine the best course of treatment. Houston Methodist offers a full range of surgical treatment options to remove cysts or tumors. In addition to surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy may also be recommended.

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery