Also referred to as odontogenic or non-odontogenic growths, face and jaw tumors and cysts are rare growths and lesions affecting the soft tissues in the face, mouth, and jawbone. They can vary in size and are ordinarily noncancerous. What causes cysts and tumors of the face and jaws and their symptoms?

Causes of Cysts and Tumors of the Face and Jaws

Research has shown that tumors and cysts of the face and jaws, especially odontogenic lesions, come from cells and tissues involved in the expected growth of teeth. In contrast, non-odontogenic tumors develop from other tissues within the face and mouth that aren’t interested in the development of teeth. However, the exact cause of these growths is still unclear, although some researchers believe it has something to do with a gene mutation or genetic conditions.

For instance, someone with a rare genetic condition referred to as nevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome or Gorlin-Goltz syndrome lacks the gene that destroys tumors. Therefore, they’re likely to develop cysts and tumors of the face and jaws. This syndrome also leads to the growth of multiple basal cell skin cancers.

Symptoms of Cysts and Tumors of the Face and Jaws

First, understand that there’s a difference between a cyst and a tumor. A cyst is a wound with liquid or semi-liquid material, while a tumor is an unusual tissue mass. Here are the main examples of the cysts and tumors of the face and jaws.

Central Giant Cell Granuloma

A central giant cell granuloma is a benign lesion that grows from bone cells. It usually occurs in the front part of the lower jaw, and it can grow rapidly and destroy the bone. This type of tumor causes pain and can easily recur after treatment.


This rare tumor develops from cells involved in developing the enamel lining of your teeth. Ameloblastoma usually occurs in the jawbone near your molars, and it’s an aggressive benign that causes large tumors and can grow into your jawbone.


This tumor usually doesn’t have any symptoms, but it interferes with the normal growth of teeth. It’s the most common type of odontogenic growth. It develops from the tissue surrounding your teeth in the jaw, appearing like abnormally shaped teeth.

Dentigerous Cyst

This cyst develops from the tissue surrounding your teeth before they erupt. It’s the most common type of cyst of the jaw. It usually occurs around wisdom teeth before erupting, but it can also appear around other teeth.