Epstein pearls

Alternative names 
Gingival cysts of the newborn

Definition
Epstein pearls are a whitish-yellow accumulation of keratin containing epithelial cells on the gums and hard palate of a newborn baby.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Epstein pearls occur only in the newborn and are very common, seen in approximately 80% of newborns. On the gums, they sometimes resemble emerging teeth. The condition is harmless although it sometimes worries new mothers.

Symptoms

     
  • whitish-yellow nodules appearing on the gums or the roof of the mouth in a newborn

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.)

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 5, 2012
by Potos A. Aagen, M.D.

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