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Obturator

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The term obturator is derived from a latin word and means “to block.” In the field of dentistry, it refers to devices that prevent a cyst in the jaw from closing up. In the picture, one can see a cyst obturator fabricated on a plaster model of the upper jaw.
Most cysts in the jaw bones continue to grow as long as they are not opened/treated. This is a long-standing and painless process. Here you see a patient with a large cyst in her upper jaw, outlined here in blue. She first became aware of the cyst from a swelling in her gums (gingiva). The cyst must have developed a few years prior, and it has originated in the periapical region of a root canal-treated tooth. Such a cyst is called a radicular cyst. The adjacent teeth (incisor and canine) are healthy and have not been damaged by the cyst.
Were the cyst to be simply removed (i.e., a cystectomy), the adjacent teeth would most likely be damaged and require root canal treatment. In order to avoid this, the cyst is opened (cystostomy), i.e., its base is removed by cautery, followng which a pulpy fluid drains out. The contents of the cyst are carefully flushed out with water, taking care not to peel off the body of the cyst in order to avoid damaging the nearby roots. An impression is taken and sent to the technician, who will pour it and use the plaster model to fabricate an obturator. For disinfection purposes, an iodoform strip is placed in the open cyst. This will speed up wound healing and prevent the cyst from healing until the obturator is put in place.
Here you can see the obturator on the plaster model. The iodoform strip will now be removed and the obturator inserted. The positioning of the obturator is checked, and the patient will be called in for a follow-up every 4 weeks. The obtutrator is a removable device and can be removed for cleaning purposes. It then prevents the opened cyst from healing. The entire procedure is comparable to letting air out of a balloon while maintaing the opening with a device, in this case, an obturator.
When an obturator is difficult to insert because of the growth of the cyst, the dentist will need to decrease its size by removing some material. This is repeated until the cyst is ready for surgical removal. The drawback with this treatment is its long duration; however, no teeth are damaged in the process.

Obturator