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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.

Milia is a similar kind of skin problem in babies.

Alternative Names

Gingival cysts of the newborn

Causes

Epstein pearls occur only in newborns and are very common. They are seen in about 4 out of 5 newborns.

Symptoms

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

Exams and Tests

An exam confirms that these are Epstein pearls and not teeth present at birth (natal teeth).

Treatment

No treatment is necessary. The condition is harmless.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Epstein pearls disappear within 1 to 2 weeks of birth.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

If you are concerned about Epstein pearls in your infant, talk to your health care provider during a routine well-baby checkup.

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: 5/5/2014
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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