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OBJECTIVE: This case report describes an extensive unicystic ameloblastoma presenting like a dentigerous cyst in a ten-year old child, with emphasis on the need for cross sectional imaging technique, histologic diagnosis, and critical appraisal of factors influencing surgical treatment options.
CASE REPORT: A ten-year old male presented in the outpatient oral and maxillofacial clinic on account of asymptomatic left facial swelling of 2 years duration. On examination there was a left facial swelling extending from the midline of the lower lip region to the angle of the mandible and superiorly it extended to the preauricular region. The swelling was firm with some areas of fluctuancy. There was however no nodal involvement and the overlying mucosa appeared essentially normal. Imaging with digital radiographs and cross sectional evaluation with computed tomography was done. The cystic aspirate was straw coloured and histological diagnosis of unicystic ameloblastoma (UA) was made. Subtotal mandibular resection with discontinuation of the left condyle was done. There were no other postoperative complications apart from pain and swelling, and the patient was discharged after 5 days.
CONCLUSION: The need to promote awareness among the populace and encourage early presentation is ever more urgent in order to take advantage of the benefits of less radical surgical approaches based on proper diagnostic tools.