If an odontoma sounds like a scary oral condition, it doesn’t have to be. These non-cancerous tumors only require a one-time removal treatment. And if you follow the proper aftercare practices, you’ll be back to your regular pain-free routine in no time.
Read on to learn more about odontomas, their symptoms, diagnosis, treatment options, and more.
What Is an Odontoma?
An odontoma is a benign tumor commonly found in people 14-20 years of age. It is classified as tooth-forming tissue that grows internally and invades the jaw area of the mouth.
The tumor may contain many of the same tissues regular teeth do. In some cases, it can even take on the appearance of tiny teeth, depending on the type.
Usually, odontoma symptoms are non-existent since they aren’t always visible or cause pain. But, pain-free or not, odontomas must be treated with surgery to prevent damage to other teeth.
Types of Odontomas
To better understand what they are, let’s look at the two types of odontomas: compound and complex.
Compound odontomas appear in the lower jaw area and resemble a cluster of tiny teeth. Both men and women are equally affected, but this condition is more common in teenagers than adults.
Unlike compound odontomas, a complex odontoma is not noticeably visible. It resembles an impacted tooth but is a large mass that is generally pain-free. It is often found by accident during an X-ray.
Complex odontomas occur in the mandibular molar regions. If left untreated, they can fracture your jawbone.
Clinically, three types of odontomas have been found: central, peripheral, and erupted.
- Accounts for about 50% of all odontogenic tumors
- Mainly occurs in the front of either the upper or lower jaw.
- Extremely rare, with only 6 known cases.
- Usually diagnosed as a microscopic compound odontoma.
- Only occurs in the soft tissue of the upper or lower jaw.
- Extremely rare, with only 11 known cases.
- Develops in bone and leads to an erupted or impacted tooth.
What Causes Odontomas?
The causes of odontoma tumors remain relatively unknown. However, they have been related to the following:
- History of trauma
- Genetic condition
- Interference in the development of a child’s teeth after birth
- Hyperactivity of the dental pulp
- Infection in the baby teeth
- Abnormality during enamel maturation
- Schizodontia, or splitting of a tooth
- Gardner’s syndrome.
Though generally painless, there are times when people with odontoma feel discomfort in their gums. Here are a few odontoma symptoms you should look out for:
- Tooth displacement
- Pain and swelling around tooth or gums
- Small clusters of teeth
Even if you aren’t experiencing any of the above symptoms, it’s still important to regularly schedule your dental visit to catch this condition.
Odontoma Radiology Diagnosis
Since odontomas are not always visible or painful, a radiology diagnosis is best to identify them. If you receive your routine X-rays from your dental check-ups, your dentist can determine the type of your odontomas and treat them early on.
Your odontomas may also be visible without radiographic images. If they do, you still need a radiology diagnosis. The diagnosis can help your doctor learn the tumor’s size, depth, and other features.
The best way to treat an odontoma is to cut it out surgically. However, there are a few factors that affect the surgery process:
- If the odontoma is complex or compound
- Its location
- If it’s caused damage to other teeth
Once your doctor has identified the condition of your tumor, they’ll give you a detailed overview of the surgical process and help you prepare.
Your doctor will have to remove the tumor surgically by making a small cut in the gum.
Complex odontomas may require more surgical time and care if eruption disturbances occur. If this is your case, you may undergo a tooth extraction.
Your doctor will discuss tooth replacement options with you. Discuss realignment options with your doctor if your tooth alignment has been affected.
Odontoma Treatment: Aftercare
After the odontoma surgery, patients tend to bounce back quickly. The key to a healthy and speedy recovery is to follow all of the aftercare practices your doctor gives you.
Here are a few things that your doctor may suggest after your surgery:
Pain relief medicine
Advil or Tylenol are common over-the-counter medications to help ease inflammation and pain. Most doctors recommend a healthy use of these two medications rather than opioids.
Icing is a great way to decrease inflammation and pain naturally. Try icing in 15-minute intervals. That is 15 minutes of icing followed by 15 minutes without ice. Apply ice packs to your face over the site of the surgery.
Take it easy
Your doctor will likely recommend that you rest for the first 24-48 hours after your surgery. This can look like the following:
- No physical exercise or similar activities
- Avoid tasks that cause stress
- Get a healthy amount of sleep
Keep it clean
Like with any oral surgery, it’s not uncommon for the area of operation to bleed a little afterward. Since the wound is still fresh and susceptible to harmful bacteria, keeping your mouth clean is essential.
Your doctor will most likely recommend you brush your teeth with warm water without toothpaste. Besides, a saltwater rinse is also common to keep the area clean.
Follow your doctor’s specific aftercare instructions to prevent any infections.
Odontoma: Final Word
Surgeries aren’t necessarily pain-free, but they don’t have to be stressful. Patients recover quickly from odontoma removal surgeries. Moreover, odontomas aren’t known to grow back.
While odontomas can cause damage to your teeth, they are highly treatable and often caught with a radiology diagnosis. Make sure you schedule your routine dental check-up to detect and treat any tumors you may have.
Odontoma: Your questions answered
Usually, you need to relax for up to 48 hours before starting any physical exercise or activity after your odontoma removal surgery. This helps your blood to clot at the surgical site. You may return to your regular life from day 3. After that, you may need 3 to 4 weeks for your soft tissues to heal.
An odontoma is a non-cancerous tumor. The term comes from ‘Traite Des Tumeurs,’ written by P. Broca and published in France in 1866. Odontomas constitute 22% of all tooth-related tumors. They are asymptomatic and generally require radiographic examination for diagnosis.
Like any other cosmetic dental surgery, every case is different. A surgical tooth extraction cost ranges between $200 and $650. If your odontomas are complex and you require multiple surgeries or cuts, you may have to spend much more than that. Odontomas are not regular cases; therefore, their surgery costs may be determined only after examining your mouth.
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- International Journal of Clinical Pediatric Dentistry. Odontome: A Brief Overview. 2011 Sep-Dec; 4(3): 177–185.
- Indian Journal of Dentistry. Schizodontia in primary dentition: Report of 2 cases. 2012 April-June, Volume 3, Number 2; pp. 102-105.
- Case Report. Large Complex Odontoma of Mandible in a Young Boy: A Rare and Unusual Case Report. Volume 2014.
- Medicina Oral, Patologia Oral, Cirugia Bucal. Intraosseous odontoma erupted into the oral cavity: An unusual pathology. 2005;10:248-51.
- Colgate. What Is An Odontoma, And How Is It Treated?