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Epstein pearls

Definition

Epstein pearls are whitish-yellow cysts that form on the gums and roof of the mouth in a newborn baby.

See also: Milia

Alternative Names

Gingival cysts of the newborn

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Epstein pearls occur only in the newborn and are very common. They are seen in approximately 80% of newborns.

The pearls are protein-filled cysts. The condition is harmless, although it sometimes worries new mothers.

Symptoms

Whitish-yellow nodules appear on the gums or the roof of the mouth in a newborn. They sometimes look like emerging teeth.

Signs and tests

Examination of the infant confirms that these are Epstein pearls and not teeth present at birth (natal teeth).

Treatment

No treatment is necessary.

Expectations (prognosis)

Epstein pearls disappear within 1 to 2 weeks of birth.

Complications

There are often no complications.

Calling your health care provider

If you are concerned about Epstein pearls in your infant, discuss it with your health care provider during a routine well-baby examination.

References

Hellstein JW. Odontogenesis, odontogenic cysts, and odontogenic tumors. In: Cummings CW, Flint PW, Haughey BH, et al, eds. Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2010:chap 93.


Review Date: 5/10/2010
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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