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Dentigerous cysts

Synonym(s): malformation deciduous permanent teeth tooth follicle cell rests dental lamina mandible mandibular maxilla maxillary odontoma


  • Cause: congenital abnormality (occurs during early embryonic development).
  • Signs: swelling of the mandibular or maxillary region(s) of the head, often discharging.
  • Diagnosis: gross appearance may be suggestive, however further diagnostic imaging such as radiology, computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging may be required. Definitive diagnosis is obtained at histopathological examination.
  • Treatment: surgical excision under general anesthesia is considered the most appropriate treatment for dentigerous cysts in cattle. Other treatments include chemical cauterization, simple incision of the cyst for drainage, or incomplete excision.
  • Prognosis: extra cranial dentigerous cysts carry a good prognosis. Intracranial dentigerous cysts carry a poorer prognosis.

Presenting signs

  • Commonly first identified in young calves.
  • Swelling of the mandibular or maxillary region(s).
  • Often a painless swelling/mass.
  • Frequently discharging.

Geographic incidence

  • Worldwide occurrence.

Age predisposition

  • Both genders can be affected.

Breed/Species predisposition

  • Can occur in any breed.

Cost considerations

  • Cost associated with diagnostic investigations (such as diagnostic imaging).
  • Cost associated with surgical management.

Special risks

  • Careful surgical technique is required for the removal of deep seated dentigerous cyst. Depending on the location of the dentigerous cyst, care is needed due to the proximity of the skull, adjacent brain tissue, temporal artery and vein, the auriculopalpebral branch of the facial nerve and the zygomaticoauricularis muscle.



  • Dentigerous cysts arise during early organogenesis and presents as congenital abnormalities.
  • During embryogenesis, the maxillae, mandibles, and muscles associated with chewing develop from the first branchial cleft and the teeth develop from the epithelium of the oral cavity and blend with the periodontium, cement, and dental papilla, which are derived from mesenchymal tissue.
  • The dentigerous cyst is a deformity derived from deciduous and/or permanent teeth follicles and cell that reside in the dental lamina.
  • Dentigerous cysts consist of osseous tissue like enamel, cementum, dentin and pulpal tissue (malformed tooth/teeth-like structures).

Predisposing factors


  • The condition does not appear to be a hereditable condition.


  • There appear to be no known specific predisposing factors.


  • Dentigerous cysts consist of an extra tooth or teeth outside the dental arcades usually within the soft tissues and musculature of the mandibular and maxillary regions.
  • In cattle, the condition has been described as occurring bilaterally and symmetrical.
  • As the dentigerous cyst develop, degeneration of epithelial component of enamel results in accumulation of fluid and encapsulated by fibrous tissue, which causes local destructions in soft tissues, bones and may cause resorption of roots of adjacent teeth.


  • The mass or masses are likely to be present at birth.
  • Time course of the clinical presentation may vary with location and size of the dentigerous cysts.
  • Several clinical cases reported in the literature vary from a few days after birth to a mature animal.


  • Dentigerous cysts are considered a sporadic condition.


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Further Reading


Refereed Papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Pooniya R, Kumar P, Saini R, Kumar A & Palsania S K (2020) Surgical management of odontoma in cattle. J Entomol Zool Stud (4), 1229-1230 JEZS (pdf download).
  • Alcigir M E & Vural S A (2012) A case of odontogenic inflammatory dentigerous cyst in a calf: Macroscopic and histopathological findings. Bulg J Vet Med 15 (2), 137-141 ResearchGate.
  • Wapf P & Nuss K (2005) Dentigerous cyst in a calf. Vet Rec 156 (18), 580-582 PubMed.
  • Gardner D G (1993) Dentigerous cysts in animals. Oral Surg, Oral Med, Oral Pathol 75 (3), 348-352 PubMed.

Other sources of information

  • Jubb K V F, Kennedy P C & Palmer N (1985) Pathology of Domestic Animals. Vol 2. 3rd edn. Academic Press, USA.