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Lateral Periodontal Cyst: Definition, Causes & Treatment

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson goes over an uncommon type of dental condition known as a lateral periodontal cyst. Find out what it is, where it occurs, what its causes might be, and how it is treated in this lesson.

Lateral Periodontal Cyst

If you can imagine a balloon filled with fluid, then you'll have no problem imagining what a cyst is. A cyst is, in its simplest terms, a sac filled with a fluid or semi-solid substance that is found in the body. Pretty much like a balloon filled with water, right?

Well, sometimes very small cysts can be found near your teeth. One of these types of cysts is known as a lateral periodontal cyst (LPC). This, in short, is a cyst that occurs near the root of a healthy tooth. This is the simple definition, however, so why don't we expand upon that a bit more and go over the causes and treatment of this condition?

Detailed Definition

An LPC is found in close association with the roots of erupted vital teeth. Erupted teeth are those that are visible inside of your mouth and vital teeth are those with a living pulp. The pulp is unmineralized (soft) tissue that is located in the center of the tooth. It is composed, in great part, of nervous and vascular tissue. It is thanks to the pulp that you feel pain when your tooth decays or your dentist drills into your teeth. The pulp of a tooth also helps keep a tooth healthy in general by providing it with nutrition.

Knowing that, you should be aware that LPCs can arise between the roots of these erupted vital teeth. The roots of these teeth sit either within the maxillary (upper jaw) or mandibular (lower jaw) bone. The part of the maxillary or mandibular bone that surrounds the roots of your teeth is known as alveolar bone. LPCs are found within this bone between the roots of the teeth. That's why you commonly see no outward signs of LPCs if you have them. They are usually only found on dental radiographs. They're kind of hidden, aren't they!

The alveolar bone is part of something known as the periodontium. The periodontium is a collection of structures that surround and help support the teeth within your mouth. LPCs can also arise along the lateral periodontium.

Importantly, LPCs do not arise as a result of inflammation.

Causes & Treatment

So why do they arise? Well, no one really knows for sure. For example, one theory outlines that they might occur due to a pulpal infection or long-term periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is more commonly called gum disease. Another theory states that LPCs occur basically accidentally as a tooth erupts due to defects of tooth formation.

The good news is that many of these cysts are painless and relatively harmless so emergency surgery is by no means necessary. If the cyst grows to a size that makes life uncomfortable for the patient or it begins to threaten the surrounding tissues and structures with its location and/or size, then treatment is warranted. Such cysts are removed surgically. The patient is then monitored for many years to ensure the cyst doesn't come back. Normally, the space the cyst occupied within the bone will fill in within 6-12 months.

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