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ORIGINAL ARTICLE  
Year : 2013  |  Volume : 17  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 41-44
 

Histopathologic evaluation of follicular tissues associated with impacted lower third molars


1 Department of Oral Pathology, Coorg Institute of Dental Sciences, Virajpet, India
2 Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, A B Shetty Memorial Institute of Dental Sciences, Dheralakatte, Mangalore, India

Date of Web Publication18-Apr-2013

Correspondence Address:
Anand S Tegginamani
Department of Oral Pathology, Coorg Institute of Dental Sciences, Virajpet - 571 218
India
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DOI: 10.4103/0973-029X.110713

PMID: 23798828

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   Abstract 

Context: Previous studies have reported that the dental follicular tissues associated with impacted lower third molars (ILTMs) may undergo cystic degeneration and/or neoplastic transformation. This is especially likely when the pericoronal space is >2.5 mm on intraoral radiographs and >3 mm on panoramic radiographs and to examine dental follicular tissue for pathological changes in patients with ILTMs and pericoronal radiolucencies of <2.5 mm. Aim: Histopathological evaluation of follicular tissues associated with ILTMs. Materials and Methods: The morphology of the hematoxylin and eosin-stained follicular tissues of 146 such impactions were studied. Results: On microscopy, no cystic structures with fibrous walls were identified. 85 cases (58%) showed fibrous or myxomatous connective tissue and no epithelial elements. 61 cases (42%) showed epithelial elements in addition to fibrocollagenous tissue. Of these, 16 cases exhibited epithelium, of which 13 cases showed reduced enamel epithelium and three cases showed squamous metaplasia/non-keratinized stratified squamous epithelium. Conclusions: All asymptomatic unerupted third molars with pericoronal radiolucency of <2.5 mm should be retained since they do not exhibit cyst formation microscopically.


Keywords: Dental follicle, impacted lower third molar, pathology


How to cite this article:
Tegginamani AS, Prasad R. Histopathologic evaluation of follicular tissues associated with impacted lower third molars. J Oral Maxillofac Pathol 2013;17:41-4

How to cite this URL:
Tegginamani AS, Prasad R. Histopathologic evaluation of follicular tissues associated with impacted lower third molars. J Oral Maxillofac Pathol [serial online] 2013 [cited 2014 Sep 30];17:41-4. Available from: http://www.jomfp.in/text.asp?2013/17/1/41/110713



   Introduction Top


Apart from its important role in eruption physiology, previous studies have reported that the dental follicle (DF) may undergo cystic degeneration and/or neoplastic transformation. The DF appears radiographically as a pericoronal radiolucency, the width of which is of the utmost importance in identifying DF pathology. [1] Pericoronal radiolucencies are common radiographic findings observed in dental practice; they usually represent a normal or enlarged DF that requires no intervention. Alternatively, they may represent a pathological entity that requires appropriate management and histopathological interpretation. A pericoronal space >2.5 mm on an intraoral radiograph and >3 mm on a panoramic radiograph should be regarded as suspicious of pathosis. [2]

One of the most hotly debated subjects in oral surgery is the determination of the indications for extraction of asymptomatic impacted lower third molars (ILTMs). Enlargement of the size of pericoronal radiolucency is an important finding for removal of an asymptomatic impacted tooth. A lot of histological variation may exist in the follicle tissue surrounding impacted teeth including changes in epithelial rests. [3] Because most dental practitioners discard extracted unerupted third molars rather than send them for histopathological analysis, no accurate information is available regarding the prevalence of pathology at this site. Although there is a consensus that ILTMs should be extracted when pathological changes and serious clinical symptoms are observed, there is no agreement regarding their prophylactic extraction. As a result, some clinicians espouse prophylactic extraction, while others favor observation and periodic monitoring. [4] In an attempt to address the controversies surrounding the management of impacted teeth, this study was designed to microscopically evaluate the dental follicular tissues associated with pericoronal radiolucencies of <2.5 mm.


   Materials and Methods Top


Impacted third molars were removed for a variety of reasons and the clinical details for each patient including age, sex, and location of the lesion were recorded. Specimens of DFs associated with ILTMs were surgically removed in the Departments of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, A B Shetty Institute of Dental Sciences, Mangalore, and Coorg Institute of Dental Sciences, Virajpet, Karnataka.

The inclusion criteria were the presence of at least one asymptomatic unerupted third molar and a pericoronal radiolucency of <2.5 mm in greatest dimension. One hundred and forty six impactions met the study inclusion criteria after preliminary intra oral periapical radiography the follicles were submitted for histopathological examination; all specimens were fixed immediately in 10% buffered formalin and embedded in paraffin wax; 5-μm-thick serial sections were then stained with the H and E stain.


   Results Top


Of the 146 cases that were included, there were 84 mesioangular, six horizontal, and 56 distoangular ILTMs. 85 were males and 61 were females, with an age range from 18 years to 32 years (median: 23.5 years). The amount of follicular tissue removed varied between 1.5 mm and 2.5 mm on gross examination. On microscopy, no cystic structures were identified. 85 cases (58%) showed fibrous or myxomatous connective tissue with (16/85) or without (69/85) inflammation and no epithelial elements. Two cases showed dystrophic calcification. 61 cases (42%) showed epithelial elements in addition to fibrocollagenous tissue. Of these, 16 cases exhibited epithelium, of which 13 cases showed reduced enamel epithelium and three cases showed squamous metaplasia/non-keratinized stratified squamous epithelium with underlying connective tissue [Figure 1]. 45 cases showed connective tissue with cords or islands of odontogenic epithelium [Figure 2] with/without inflammatory cells. When present, the inflammatory cells in all cases were predominately lymphocytes. Ameloblastoma-like islands were noted in 2 of the 45 cases which showed odontogenic epithelium [Figure 3].
Figure 1: Hand E section showing non-keratinized stratified squamous epithelium with underlying connective tissue (×40)

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Figure 2: H and E section reveals connective tissue with cords or islands of odontogenic epithelium (×100)

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Figure 3: H and E section reveals connective tissue with ameloblastoma-like islands (×100)

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   Discussion Top


In the presence of pathological changes and/or severe symptoms, such as infection, non-restorable carious lesions, cysts, tumors, and destruction of adjacent teeth and bone, there is no argument about the need for tooth extraction. However, the justification for prophylactic removal of ILTMs is less certain and has been debated for many years. [5] Odontogenic cysts or odontogenic tumors may arise from the epithelial rests in the follicle tissue surrounding impacted tooth. The potential for this development is not known. Theoretically, a variety of tumors may arise from the epithelial remnants, particularly odontogenic tumors. The most frequent odontogenic tumor to arise from epithelial remnants is the ameloblastoma. Rarely, an untreated dentigerous cyst (DC) undergoes transformation into an ameloblastoma, squamous cell carcinoma, or intraosseous mucoepidermoid carcinoma, arising mainly from epithelial remnants. [6],[7],[8],[9] Therefore, changes occurring in epithelial rests and dormant remnants in the follicle tissue surrounding impacted teeth cannot be disregarded.

Primary intraosseous odontogenic carcinoma (PIOSCC), defined as a squamous cell carcinoma arising within the jawbones, has no initial connection with the oral mucosa and develops from remnants of odontogenic epithelium. The pathogenesis of PIOSCC is unclear although it has been suggested that longstanding chronic inflammation might be the main pre-disposing factor for malignant transformation in the cyst epithelium based on the presence of lymphocytes and plasma cells in the connective tissue of the cyst wall. [10] There are reports of ameloblastoma, paradental cyst, and odonotogenic keratocyst developing in the DFs of ILTMs that were asymptomatic both clinically and radiographically. [11],[12] These findings suggest that lack of radiographic appearance of disease is not a reliable indicator of the absence of disease and that the prevalence of soft tissue pathosis is higher than generally assumed from radiographic evaluation alone.

Widely accepted criteria for separating DFs and DCs do not exist; this remains an area of controversy. [13],[14] In this study, 16 cases exhibited epithelium, of which 13 were reduced enamel epithelium and three were non-keratinized stratified squamous epithelia; these findings corroborate those of Daley and Wysocki who state that the normal follicle may be lined by squamous epithelium. Similarly, Slater states that the presence of squamous epithelium cannot be used as the sole criterion to diagnose a DC, which should rather be labeled as follicular tissue with squamous differentiation. [15],[16] This is at variance with Glosser and Campbell., [13] Curran et al, [15] and Adelsperger et al, [17] who argue that any follicle with squamous epithelium should be regarded as a DC. In most of the previous studies, any soft tissue specimen with presence of a dense fibrous connective tissue wall lined by a few layers of stratified squamous epithelium was defined as cystic. Various authors have described 23-50% of "cystic change" in ILTMs. [18]

Varying criteria for the diagnosis of DCs have been described. Godoy et al., applied the following histopathological criteria: Observation of a thin stratified squamous epithelial lining of the cystic cavity, exhibiting areas of continuity and arranged throughout a connective capsule of variable density; The criteria for DF included: observation of a thin and discontinuous simple cuboidal reduced enamel epithelium, along with loose fibrous connective tissue caspule. [19] Da Silva T A espoused the following criteria for DCs: (a) A predominant lining by stratified squamous epithelium, (b) pericoronal spaces >5.6 mm, and (c) surgical exploration revealing bone cavitation and cystic content. DFs were predominantly lined by reduced enamel epithelium, the width of the pericoronal space was <5.6 mm, and no bone cavitations or cystic content was detected. [20]

Some unerupted teeth have a slightly dilated follicle in the pre-eruptive phase which does not signify a cyst, nor even necessarily a potential cyst unless the pericoronal width is at least 3-4 mm. Attachment of the cyst wall to the neck of the associated tooth is an essential feature of DCs, and microscopically, the cyst lining should demonstrate a readily identifiable component of reduced enamel epithelium before a diagnosis of DC is made. The following guidelines are recommended for the diagnosis of a DC: (i) A pericoronal radiolucency larger than 4 mm in greatest width as assessed on a panoramic radiograph, (ii) fibrous tissue lined by non-keratinized stratified squamous epithelium, and (iii) a surgically demonstrable cystic space between enamel and overlying tissue. [14]

DFs can also be misinterpreted microscopically as central odontogenic fibromas. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons must be cognizant of the fact that myxomas histologically mimic an enlarged DF with myxoid change or the dental papilla of a developing tooth. A DF or odontogenic fibroma should be considered if myxomatous tissue contains islands or cords of odontogenic epithelium; however, the latter will be associated with larger pericoronal radiolucency. The highest rate of misdiagnosis was in the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology study of DFs and dental papillae which were interpreted as odontogenic myxomas. [21] Central odontogenic fibroma-like changes have also been reported to be associated with crowns of impacted teeth. [22]

Several authors have observed a high incidence of pathological changes in DFs associated with larger pericoronal radiolucencies. However, the discrepancy in the incidence rates of pathological changes in DFs is due to lack of standardization of the parameters used for radiographic and histological analysis of the cases. [5] Most oral and maxillofacial surgeons and other dental practitioners make clinical judgments on an outpatient basis rather than submit pericoronal tissue for histological diagnosis when ILTMs are removed. Thus, data concerning pathological changes in follicles associated with ILTMs are very limited because pericoronal tissues are often discarded after third molar removal and the soft tissue is not submitted for histological examination. [18]


   Conclusions Top


In conclusion, the data from this study do not justify the removal of all asymptomatic ILTMs. The phrase "squamous metaplasia" of reduced enamel epithelium seems more appropriate than a diagnosis of DC when stratified squamous epithelium is present in follicular tissue in the absence of cystic change and pericoronal radiolucency of <2.5 mm. However, all asymptomatic ILTMs should be submitted to radiographic follow-up and in the event of extraction with increased pericoronal radiolucency, the follicular tissue obtained should be sent for histopathological examination.


   Acknowledgments Top


The authors would like to thank Dr. Rekha V. Kumar Professor, Department of Pathology, Kidwai Memorial Institute of Oncology, M H Marigowda Road, Bangalore for assistance in manuscript preparation and histologic evaluation.

 
   References Top

1.Kim J, Ellis GL. Dental follicular tissue: Misinterpretation as odontogenic tumors. J Oral Maxillofac Surg 1993;51:762-7.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.Farah CS, Savage NW. Pericoronal radiolucencies and the significance of early detection. Aust Dent J 2002;47:262-5.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.Hasan K, Alparslan ES, Diºhek FD. Ki-67 expression in dental follicle of the impacted teeth: A case report. Su Dishek Fak Derg. 2011;20:63-6.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.Simºek-Kaya G, Özbek E, Kalkan Y, Yapici G, Dayi E, Demirci T. Soft tissue pathosis associated with asymptomatic impacted lower third molars. Med Oral Patol Oral Cir Bucal 2011;16:e929-36.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.Oliveira DM, Silveira MM, Andrade ES, Sobral AP, Martins-Filho PR, Santos TS et al. Immunohistochemical analysis of proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) in dental follicles of impacted third molars. Int J Morphol 2011;29:526-31.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.Yasuoka T, Yonemoto K, Kato Y, Tatematsu N. Squamous cell carcinoma arising in a dentigerous cyst. J Oral Maxillofac Surg 2000;58:900-5.  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.Aggarwal P, Saxena S. Aggressive growth and neoplastic potential of dentigerous cysts with particular reference to central mucoepidermoid carcinoma. Br J Oral Maxillofac Surg 2011;49:e36-9.  Back to cited text no. 7
    
8.Cankurtaran CZ, Branstetter BF 4 th , Chiosea SI, Barnes EL Jr. Best cases from the AFIP: Ameloblastoma and dentigerous cyst associated with impacted mandibular third molar tooth. Radiographics 2010;30:1415-20.  Back to cited text no. 8
    
9.Masthan KM, Rajkumari S, Deepasree M, Babu AN, Sankari LS. Neoplasms associated with odontogenic cysts. J Dent Oral Hyg 2011;3:123-30.  Back to cited text no. 9
    
10.Bodner L, Manor E, Shear M, van der Waal I. Primary intraosseous squamous cell carcinoma arising in an odontogenic cyst: A clinicopathologic analysis of 116 reported cases. J Oral Pathol Med 2011;40:733-8.  Back to cited text no. 10
    
11.Kaushal N, Soni S. Ameloblastoma in dental follicle of an asymptomatic impacted tooth. Indian J Oral Health 2011;1:50-1.  Back to cited text no. 11
    
12.Yadav M. Incidental finding of paradental cyst and odontogenic keratocyst in the dental follicles of lower impacted third molars: Report of two cases. Oral Maxillofac Pathol J 2012;3:218-20.  Back to cited text no. 12
    
13.Glosser JW, Campbell JH. Pathologic change in soft tissues associated with radiographically 'normal' third molar impactions. Br J Oral Maxillofac Surg 1999;37:259-60.  Back to cited text no. 13
    
14.Daley TD, Wysocki GP. The small dentigerous cyst. A diagnostic dilemma. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol Endod 1995;79:77-81.  Back to cited text no. 14
    
15.Curan AE, Damm DD, Drummond JF. Pathologically significant pericoronal lesions in adults: Histopathologic evaluation. J Oral Maxillofac Surg 2002;60:613-7.  Back to cited text no. 15
    
16.Slater LJ. Dentigerous cyst versus dental follicle. Br J Oral Maxillofac Surg 2000;38:402.  Back to cited text no. 16
    
17.Adelsperger J, Campbell JH, Coates DB, Summerlin DJ, Tomich CE. Early soft tissue pathosis associated with impacted third molars without pericoronal radiolucency. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol Endod 2000;89:402-6.  Back to cited text no. 17
    
18.Yildirim G, Ataoðlu H, Mihmanli A, Kiziloðlu D, Avunduk MC. Pathologic changes in soft tissues associated with asymptomatic impacted third molars. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol Endod 2008;106:14-8.  Back to cited text no. 18
    
19.Godoy GP, da Silveira EJ, Lins RD, de Souza LB, de Almeida Freitas R, Queiroz LM. Immunohistochemical profile of integrins in enlarged dental follicles and dentigerous cysts. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol Endod 2007;104:e29-34.  Back to cited text no. 19
    
20.da Silva TA, Batista AC, Mendonça EF, Leles CR, Fukada S, Cunha FQ. Comparative expression of RANK, RANKL, and OPG in keratocystic odontogenic tumors, ameloblastomas, and dentigerous cysts. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol Endod 2008;105:333-41.  Back to cited text no. 20
    
21.Brannon RB. Central odontogenic fibroma, myxoma (odontogenic myxoma, fibromyxoma), and central odontogenic granular cell tumor. Oral Maxillofac Surg Clin North Am. 2004;16:359-74.  Back to cited text no. 21
    
22.Feller L, Jadwat Y, Bouckaert M, Buskin A, Raubenheimer EJ. Enamel dysplasia with odontogenic fibroma-like hamartomas: Review of the literature and report of a case. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol Endod 2006;101:620-4.  Back to cited text no. 22
    


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