Jaw Cyst Removal SurgeryDr Sanchaita Kohli
Are you troubled with any of the following symptoms?
1- Facial Swelling
Usually painless, you may not observe this immediately. However, the nature of this swelling is such that it grows over time, and while visible to onlookers, there are usually no other accompanying symptoms.
2- Swelling in Gums
A bluish or pale swelling in the gums without any apparent cause which may be increasing slowly in size.
3- Reduced Mouth Opening
Do you feel like you are not able to fully open your mouth? This will be relative to every person. But you will be able to observe this while eating food (especially if you are fond of golgappas) or even while speaking out words for which you need to open your mouth wide.
4- Pus / Fluid Discharge in your Mouth
We are not talking about drooling here, or discharge of normal amounts of saliva. A foul tasting or even salty fluid or pus can sometimes be tasted in the mouth as it slowly oozes out of a small gum swelling
5- Numbness of the Lower Lip
Are you experiencing any loss of sensation or tingling over your lower lip?
If you have marked the checkbox against any of the above-mentioned symptoms, then it is time for you to schedule an appointment with your oral and maxillofacial surgeon in Delhi. Why? Because chances are that you have a cyst in your jaw, and you may require it to be surgically removed.
What is a Jaw Cyst?
A cyst is a cavity which has filled up with fluid and can appear on any part of the body. A jaw cyst surgery is a cyst which has appeared inside the jawbone. There can be various reasons for the appearance of a jaw cyst – an underlying dental infection, recent or past trauma to a tooth, or even due to unerupted teeth, for instance, the wisdom or canine teeth.
Irrespective of the underlying cause, left untreated, a jaw cyst can have long term repercussions on your mouth and the face. It is likely to gradually increase in size and weaken the bone, which may lead to any of the following –
1- Mal-alignment/ Loosening of Teeth
In simple words, this means that your teeth, in trying to adjust around a growing cyst inside your jawbone, could end up changing their position, giving your teeth an uneven or a crowded look. While many of us get cosmetic procedures like braces when we are children, in the case of a cyst, this will not work. Why? Because the cyst will keep on growing, and getting a cosmetic procedure is a one-time thing, which will not resolve the problem. Unless the cyst itself is treated, dental mal-alignment is only the first step, the next step would be your teeth getting loose and falling out. So you could be 20 years old and still find yourself with loose or missing teeth in your mouth.
Untreated cysts may cause more infection inside your jaw. The cyst may get ruptured without any outlet for the fluid and will drain through your gums, which could lead to their infection. Consider this the same way you could consider an untreated boil on say your arms. While the boil itself may appear harmless, it could end up infecting the skin surrounding it. In fact, inside the mouth, the oral bacteria, food particles, saliva and the open cyst cavity together make the perfect environment for infection to develop and progress.
Sinusitis is commonly associated with a common cold or nose congestion, and is short term in nature, normally treatable by home remedies or decongestants. However, cysts in the upper jaw may lead to sinusitis that would not respond to these therapies and could result in a progressive infection and destruction of the sinuses. Unless the jaw cyst is surgically treated, the sinusitis would not resolve.
4- Jaw Fracture
While this may only happen in the most severe of cases, jaw fracture is a real possibility if the jaw cyst is left untreated and neglected for an extended period.
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What Should I Do if I Have a Jaw Cyst?
Just like with any other disease, the earlier you catch it, the better the chances are of completely treating jaw cysts, without adverse complications. You may also find simpler treatment options available if the cyst is diagnosed early. So, my most crucial piece of advice is that if you find yourself with any of the symptoms mentioned in the first section of this article, DO NOT delay meeting your oral and maxillofacial surgeon. Do not think of this as something to put on your wait and watch list. Go to your doctor today.
Again, as with any other illness, you must follow these basic steps –
- Discuss your symptoms with your surgeon. Please do not leave out any symptoms you may have noticed, that is crucial for accurate diagnosis.
- Get the relevant tests and scans done as indicated by your surgeon.
- Get your diagnosis and discuss the way forward with your surgeon.
Once your cyst has been caught early on, it is possible to explore relatively simpler or conservative surgical treatment options. In case of a delayed diagnosis,, or if there are other complications, you may be advised to go for radical jaw surgeries for treatment.
Preparing for Jaw Cyst Removal Surgery
First and foremost, it is vital to share your complete medical history with your surgeon. Discuss any medical illnesses that you may have, any medication you may already be taking, your lifestyle choices (including smoking, alcohol or drugs) and your dietary choices. These will help your surgeon in planning your surgery better.
Secondly, it must be understood that each jaw cyst is different in size, location, type, aggressiveness, potential for recurrence, etc. So the treatment plan will be tailored specific to your case and to your circumstances. It is important to not compare your treatment with that of someone else’s. Have complete faith in your surgeon, who has spent years training to determine the right course of action and is equipped with the technical knowhow. Discuss your pre-surgical preparation in depth with them.
Third, if you smoke, then you must stop smoking at least two weeks prior to your surgery. This is non-negotiable for optimum wound healing and good surgical outcomes.
Lastly, your surgeon may advise you to undergo a scaling (oral prophylaxis) a week before your surgical procedure is scheduled. This helps to greatly reduce the risk of any infection during or after the surgery.
Jaw Cyst Surgery Procedure and Busting Some Myths
- Myth – Jaw cyst removal is a lengthy and complex surgery which involves me undergoing a tedious procedure under general anaesthesia.
- Fact – Small cysts caught in time can be removed as a simple day care procedure under local or general anaesthesia with minimal post-surgical downtime. Short and sweet.
Larger cysts require a two-step approach. The first step is for diagnosis and involves a small surgery to take a specimen from the cyst for biopsy, usually performed quickly and comfortably under local anesthesia. Based on the diagnosis, the second surgery is performed to treat the whole cyst, either by decompression (creating a window in the cyst wall), enucleation (complete cyst removal) or jaw resection. Resection needs to be done only in severe cases, which is quite rare.
- Myth – Cyst surgery will leave me with a big and unaesthetic face scar
- Fact – Almost all jaw cyst removal surgeries are performed through incisions given inside the mouth, leaving no scars or stitches whatsoever on the face. If anything, these surgeries help to improve the facial esthetic by reducing the face swelling caused by the expanding cyst. Only extremely advanced cases require skin incisions to be given for jaw resections and these too are given in the well-concealed neck skin creases.
Recovery after Jaw Cyst Removal Surgery?
As mentioned above, in most cases, the jaw surgery is a simple day procedure, and is accompanied by speedy recovery. You may observe mild facial swelling for up to two weeks after the surgery, but that is normal, so long as you follow all post recovery protocols which are advised by our surgeon.
- You need to avoid solid foods and heavy exercise for a few weeks after the surgery. Go for a soft and liquid diet and milder forms of exercise.
- You need to do regular saline rinses. This is simple, not time consuming, and helps maintain hygiene of the wound. Remember to treat the wound as you would if it were an external injury, with care and following the right protocol.
- Getting the surgery is not the end of the treatment. Sometimes cysts tend to recur, so it is important for you to stay in constant touch with your surgeon to keep an eye out for the reappearance of your cyst. This may happen even years after your initial surgery. Discuss with your surgeon the frequency with which you need to follow up and maintain that schedule till advised otherwise.
Risks involved in Jaw Cyst Removal Surgery
As a surgeon, I am honour bound to discuss the potential risks involved in jaw cyst removal surgery – a disclaimer, if you will. As with any other surgical or medical procedure, there are certain risks involved, and depending on the location and size of the cyst, its removal may be accompanied by any of the following –
- Lip numbness – Many cysts are intricately associated physically with the nerves that give sensation to the jaws, teeth and facial skin. Often, these cysts may even be compressing these nerves. Cyst removal surgery may, in such cases, require extensive and prolonged dissection of the cyst wall around these nerve bundles, causing some measure of nerve injury. In most cases, this results in transient nerve function suppression, which presents as numbness over the supplied area. Nerve healing is slow and complete recovery may take up to 3-6 months in some cases. Rarely, the numbness may persist (usually, when the nerve needs to be severed due to extensive involvement with the cyst). When this occurs, you need to discuss further options with your surgeon.
- Damage to adjacent teeth – We are operating on a cyst which has formed on the jawline, often around impacted or infected teeth. While operating on a particular tooth to remove the cyst, in some cases, an adjacent tooth may get some damage. This is an infrequent occurrence, but this may be a possibility depending upon the exact location and size of the cyst.
- Temporary nasal congestion – If you face some nasal congestion after the surgery, it is likely to be a temporary side effect of surgical fluid collection in the sinuses. If it persists, contact your surgeon, who will be able to advise you on the correct course of action to address that.
As a final summary, my advice as a surgeon is:
- Be aware of the changes happening inside your body, including the mouth. Do not ignore any out of the ordinary symptoms and changes to your face and mouth.
- If you observe any such symptoms or changes, do not delay meeting your surgeon. Together, you need to understand the exact nature of your case and discuss the right course of treatment.
- Remember to share every detail of your medical history and lifestyle. Remember, the smallest of things could impact the outcome of your treatment.
- Understand the risks involved and weigh all the pros and cons before reaching a decision.
- Follow all the pre-surgery preparation protocols and post-surgery recovery protocols advised by your surgeon to the T. Remember, they only want what is best for you.
- Do not neglect your follow up visits. Follow the schedule advised by your surgeon to keep track of any recurrence of the cyst.
Most important, we are there for you, to ethically guide you every step of the way, and to help treat your problems.
Dr. Sanchaita Kohli
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon
Dr. Sanchaita Kohli is an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon with over 13 years of training and work experience at the country’s leading dental institute, Maulana Azad Institute of Dental Sciences, enabling her to plan and manage an extremely wide variety of craniofacial deformities, jaw diseases and facial trauma.