Ameloblastoma are benign tumors that form in the mouth, most often in the lower jaw. They are one of the more common types of odontogenic tumors. They are slow growing and usually associated with the cells involved in teeth formation. While ameloblastoma do not pose any medical hazards of their own, they can interfere with tissue and systems around them. (learn more about ameloblastoma treatment and diagnosis)
The most common symptom of ameloblastoma is swelling of the jaw that feels hard and bony. This swelling is not usually painful unless or until it begins to impede on surrounding tissues and nerves. Another common sign of ameloblastoma is called “egg shell cracking.” This occurs when the thick layer of bone in that area begins to get stretched and crack due to the growth of the ameloblastoma. In some cases the tumor causes teeth to move or the patient experiences paresthesia.
Paresthesia is a feeling of numbness or tickling of the skin in the area of the tumor. This is more commonly known as pins and needles. If the patient has dentures these may begin to no longer fit properly. Some patients also experience trouble moving their jaw or chewing. Ulcers in the mouth and periodontal (gum) disease are also symptoms.
There are various types of ameloblastoma. Three main sub-types include unicystic, multicystic and peripheral. Exact diagnosis is based on looking at the ameloblastoma cells under a microscope.
Several main types are classified in this manner. They are differentiated from one another based on the cell patterns. These include desmoplastic, granular cell, basal cell, plexiform, follicular, and acanthomatous. Approximately one third of ameloblastoma are plexiform and another one third are follicular.