Dental cysts usually appear as small tissue growths on the roots of dead teeth or around buried teeth, as Addenbrooke's Hospital explains. Unless it becomes infected and painful, a dental cyst may not be noticeable without an X-ray, on which it appears as a dark hole on the jaw.
Because of where dental cysts form, they are difficult or impossible to spot, and they may remain unnoticed for months or even years, according to Addenbrooke's Hospital. A cyst can continue to grow and push against the teeth and jawbone in the area. Therefore, patients may have a dental cyst if they notice some of their teeth move from their normal locations. A cyst can also weaken the jawbone itself, so some may not notice one until trauma breaks the bone itself.
The best way for some to identify a dental cyst is through a dental X-ray, either during a routine exam or after noticing some of the other symptoms. Additionally, Addenbrooke's Hospital states that a cyst may become evident after becoming infected and forming a dental abscess. An abscess causes acute pain, and swelling of the gums, and it sometimes leads to unpleasant tastes in the mouth. However, unless the cyst becomes infected, the most accurate way to identify a dental cyst is through a dental X-ray.