Many lesions that occur in the mandible have a cystlike radiographic appearance. These lesions are often difficult to differentiate on the basis of their radiographic features alone. Mandibular lesions may be odontogenic or nonodontogenic. Among odontogenic lesions without mineralization, ameloblastomas, odontogenic keratocysts, and dentigerous cysts can all appear as well-defined, unilocular, well-corticated, lucent lesions that are often associated with the crowns of impacted or unerupted teeth. Most radicular cysts appear as round or pear-shaped, unilocular, lucent lesions in the periapical region. Among odontogenic lesions with mineralization, complex odontomas contain multiple masses of dental tissue and compound odontomas contain multiple teeth or tooth-like structures. Odontogenic myxomas are characterized by lytic osseous changes of varying size, which may be demarcated and expansile or exhibit ill-defined borders. Nonodontogenic lesions that mimic odontogenic lesions include benign fibro-osseous lesions (conventional or juvenile ossifying fibroma, focal or periapical cemento-osseous dysplasia, florid osseous dysplasia), traumatic bone cyst, lingual salivary gland inclusion defect, central giant cell granuloma, brown tumor of hyperparathyroidism, arteriovenous malformation, and mucoepidermoid carcinoma. The clinical and radiographic features of these mandibular lesions help establish a differential diagnosis, although microscopic tissue evaluation is generally necessary to accurately identify the lesion.
Robert J. Scholl, MD, Helen M. Kellett, MD, David P. Neumann, MD and Alan G. Lurie, DDS, PhD