Commonly known as a dental cyst, the periapical cyst is the most common odontogenic cyst. It may develop rapidly from a periapical granuloma, as a consequence of untreated chronic periapical periodontitis.
Periapical is defined as "the tissues surrounding the apex of the root of a tooth" and a cyst is "a pathological cavity lined by epithelium, having fluid or gaseous content that is not created by the accumulation of pus."
Most frequently located in the maxillary anterior region, the cyst is caused by pulpal necrosis secondary to dental caries or trauma. Its lining is derived from the epithelial cell rests of Malassez which proliferate to form the cyst. Such cysts are very common. Although initially asymptomatic, they are clinically significant because secondary infection can cause pain and damage. In radiographs, the cyst appears as a radiolucency (dark area) around the apex of a tooth's root.