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Year : 2019  |  Volume : 30  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 516-520
Clinico-pathological correlations of odontogenic tumors: Some critical observations based on a 20 year institutional study and a comprehensive review of literature

Department Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology, Goa Dental College and Hospital, Bambolim, Goa, India

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Date of Submission11-Oct-2017
Date of Decision15-Feb-2018
Date of Acceptance09-Jan-2019
Date of Web Publication18-Nov-2019


Context: Odontogenic tumors (OTs) represent a rare subset of pathologies of the oral and maxillofacial region. The classification of OTs has undergone several changes over the years due to a lack of uniform international identification criteria. The histomorphological similarity and the many variations in behavioral patterns elaborated by these lesions warrant research. Aims: Using the update from the fourth edition of the World Health Organisation Classification of Head and Neck Tumors (2017), this dental institution carried out an epidemiological study on OTs in the state of Goa (India) and compared the data obtained with similar studies on OTs done within India. Materials and Methods: The clinical and pathological data of OTs from August 1996 to December 2016 was retrieved from the oral and maxillofacial pathology department archives, belonging to the lone dental college and hospital in the state of Goa, India. Demographic data such as frequency, age, gender, and site along with pathological subtype was analysed. Statistical Analysis Used: Descriptive analysis (i.e. frequency of age, gender, and location), Chi-Square Test and Fischer Exact test. Results: The relative frequency of OTs was 2.61% of all oral biopsied specimens. The most common OT encountered was ameloblastoma (57.9%). The posterior aspect of the mandible was the most favored site (77.2%). The frequency of OTs decreased after the fourth decade. An overall marginal male predilection (55%) was seen. Conclusions: This study contributes to the establishment of a comprehensive loco-regional epidemiological database on OTs in India, aiding research on their aetio-pathogenesis and diagnosis.

Keywords: Epidemiology, jaws, odontogenic tumors

How to cite this article:
Syed S, Carvalho KM, Spadigam A, Dhupar A. Clinico-pathological correlations of odontogenic tumors: Some critical observations based on a 20 year institutional study and a comprehensive review of literature. Indian J Dent Res 2019;30:516-20

How to cite this URL:
Syed S, Carvalho KM, Spadigam A, Dhupar A. Clinico-pathological correlations of odontogenic tumors: Some critical observations based on a 20 year institutional study and a comprehensive review of literature. Indian J Dent Res [serial online] 2019 [cited 2023 Mar 30];30:516-20. Available from:

   Introduction Top

The tooth forming apparatus of the upper and lower jaw gives rise to myriad pathologies, of which odontogenic tumors (OTs) account for not more than 3% of all diagnosed oral and maxillofacial lesions.[1]

Based on the tissue of origin, OTs were classified by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 1971 into three categories: “Neoplasm and other tumors related to the odontogenic apparatus,” “Neoplasm and other lesions related to bone,” and “Epithelial Cysts”. In 1992, the WHO subcategorised OTs based on their tissue of origin. In 2002 and 2005, the WHO further modified the classification on the basis of advances made in the field of tumor biology and genetics.[1],[2],[3],[4] An update from the fourth edition of the World Health Organisation Classification of Head and Neck Tumors: featuring Odontogenic and Maxillofacial Bone Tumors was published in January 2017. In this update, odontogenic keratocyst and calcifying odontogenic cyst were placed under the odontogenic cyst category and cemento-ossifying fibroma was placed under the OT category based on their inherent nature.[5]

So far, there has been no consensus regarding the aetio-pathogenesis dictating the incidence-prevalence pattern of OTs.[6] Asian studies show conflicting results with respect to the most common OT encountered.[7],[8],[9] The Indian OT scenario, however, remains uncharted as data from roughly two-thirds of the country are unknown.[10],[11],[12],[13]

The objective of this study from the state of Goa is aimed at adding to the existing Indian repository of data on OTs. This would contribute to the future establishment of a National Registry for OTs.[13] There are no previous published reports on the epidemiology of OTs from the state. Since Goa has only one dental institution with a surgical set-up, it serves as a database for the OT burden generated in the state.

To the best of our knowledge, after a thorough literature search, this is the first epidemiological study, which is based on the WHO 2017 classification of OTs.

   Materials and Methods Top

Retrospective data on OTs from August 1996 to December 2016 from the Department of Oral Maxillofacial Pathology was reviewed.

In this study, the oral lesions defined as OTs by the WHO 2017 Classification of Head and Neck Tumors: Odontogenic and Maxillofacial Bone Tumors were included. Clinical and surgical notes were used to assess clinical parameters of age, gender, site, and histopathology.

A review of hematoxylin and eosin stained sections of OT cases was done by three oral pathologists in order to confirm the diagnosis. Assessment of the site of occurrence of the OTs in the jaw bones was done by dividing the maxilla and mandible into three sextants each (i.e. one anterior and two posterior sextants). The anterior sextant was defined as the distal aspect of the canine on the right to the distal aspect of the canine on the left, in each jaw. The posterior sextant was defined as the mesial aspect of the first premolar to the distal aspect of the last erupted molar in the jaw.

The clinical and pathological data was analysed using the SPSS software (version 20). Descriptive analysis (i.e. frequency analysis for age, gender, and location), Chi-Square test and Fischer exact test were used to compare the parameters of age, gender, and location with tumor histopathology.

The English literature on OTs was reviewed and the available data from Indian and Asian studies was comprehensively analysed.

   Results Top

The relative frequency of OTs was 2.61% of all oral biopsied specimens encountered between August 1996 and December 2016. Of the 114 cases of OTs recorded, only one was malignant.

Histopathological analysis revealed that the three most common OTs encountered were the ameloblastoma (57.9%), cemento-cement-ossifying fibroma (COF) (18.4%), and adenomatoid odontogenic tumor (AOT, 10.5%). The other OTs seen were odontoma (7.0%), odontogenic fibroma (OF, 1.8%), dentinogenic ghost cell tumor (DGCT, 0.9%), ameloblastic fibroma (AF, 0.9%), cementoblastoma (0.9%), odontogenic myxoma (OM, (0.9%), and ameloblastic carcinoma (AC, 0.9%).

Comparing the anatomical anterior and posterior jaw segments of maxilla and mandible, the posterior aspect of the mandible was the most favored site (77.2%). AOT was seen exclusively in anterior compartment of both jaws, showing a predisposition for the maxillary jaw. The only malignant OT was seen in anterior mandible [Figure 1].
Figure 1: Anatomic distribution of odontogenic tumors in upper and lower jaws, as seen in this study

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In this study, the third and fourth decade together accounted for 96.5% of the case load. An overall marginal male predilection (55%) was seen. Gender analysis of individual OTs showed that ameloblastoma and COF did not favor any gender. AOT, DGCT, AF, AC, and OF were seen exclusively in females, whereas odontoma, cementoblastoma, and OM favored the male gender.

   Discussion Top

The relative frequency of OTs found in this study cannot be compared with the results of other studies. This is due to the recategorisation of odontogenic keratocyst and other odontogenic lesions in the WHO classifications over a period of time, as stated in the introduction.[10],[11],[14],[15],[16]

The male predilection shown by OTs in the state of Goa is seen in other Indian states such as such as Maharashtra, Kerala, and Gujarat.[10],[14],[15],[16],[17] Gender distribution in Asian studies favors the male gender, as is the pattern shown by studies from Nigeria, Canada, and Egypt.[7],[8],[18],[19] In contrast, a female predisposition is reported in South America and Europe.[19]

India, Asia, Europe, and Africa report a peak incidence of OTs in the third decade of life.[10],[11],[14],[15],[16],[20]

Conforming to studies across the world, the most common site for OTs was found to be the posterior aspect of the mandible. However, specific OTs such as AOT are found exclusively in the anterior segment of both the jaws.[7],[8],[10],[11],[14],[15],[16],[18],[19],[20] Interestingly, it is established that the most common impacted tooth found in the oral cavity is the third molar, followed by the permanent canine that could contribute to the specific site predilection of OTs within the jaw bones.[21],[22],[23]

Ameloblastoma is the most common OT in most Asian countries.[7],[8],[10],[11],[14],[15],[16],[18],[19],[20] Studies from USA, South America, and Europe have reported odontoma as the most common OT.[19],[20] Only one study from India reported odontoma to be the most predominant OT.[12] The existing data on odontomes in India, however, may not reflect the actual scenario because in most Indian states, odontomes are rarely sent for histopathological analysis.

The WHO 2017 Classification for Head and Neck Tumors has placed COF in the benign OT category because of its unique location within jaw bones and its origin from the periodontal ligament. The new classification does not seem to differentiate the peripheral and central forms of COF.[13] It is known that the periodontal ligament contains multipotent stem cells capable of differentiating into a spectrum of mature mesenchymal cells, which include cementoblasts and osteoblasts.[24] It is hypothesized that microtrauma to the tooth bearing area of the jaws caused by plaque and masticatory load could trigger the stem cell component in the periodontal ligament to proliferate and differentiate giving rise to deposition of cementum and bone.[25],[26],[27],[28] The most common age of presentation for COF is the second and third decade and the female gender is predominantly affected.[29],[30] Studies reporting on the site of presentation of the peripheral COF report anterior maxilla to be the most common site, whereas posterior mandible is the preferred site of presentation for central lesions.[29],[30] All the cases included in this study were peripheral COFs, which showed an equal gender predilection and favored the posterior mandible.

Comparing the demographics of individual OTs within India, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat are the only two states to report a male gender predisposition and an equal gender distribution, respectively, for AOT, compared with a female predominance shown by other states.[17],[31] Since OTs such as DGCT, AF, OF, cementoblastoma, and OM have very low incidence rates, comparing their demographic data becomes difficult [Table 1]. Calcifying Epithelial OT and squamous OT have not been reported in the state till date. The rarity of these OTs in other Indian states results in a difficulty in commenting on their epidemiology.[31]
Table 1: Odontogenic tumor demographic data in India based on published reports

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In the present study, the overall clinicopathological pattern of OTs reported in Goa is similar to other Indian states. It is important to note, however, that the OT scenario of a majority of north Indian states remains unknown due to paucity of published studies.

The temporospatial pattern elaborated by OTs reflects the investigative potential of epigenetics in the aetiopathogenesis of OTs. Prophylactic measures to curb any focus of inflammation and/or microtrauma in the alveolar region of jaw bones, such as elective extractions of impacted teeth, warrants further research so as to investigate their role in the incidence and prevalence patterns of OTs.[33]


Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Goa Dental College and Hospital for supplying the clinical data and the biopsied tissue material.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

   References Top

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Correspondence Address:
Dr. Karla M Carvalho
Liberty Apartments, Flat No: 202, Feira Alta, Mapusa - 403 507, Goa
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijdr.IJDR_579_17

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