Epstein pearls are whitish-yellow cysts. These form on the gums and roof of the mouth in a newborn baby.
Milia are a similar kind of skin problem in babies.
Gingival cysts of the newborn
Epstein pearls occur only in newborns and are very common. They are seen in about 4 out of 5 newborns.
The symptoms are whitish-yellow nodules that 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 cysts and not natal teeth.
No treatment is necessary. The condition is harmless.
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.
Hellstein J. Odontogenesis, odontogenic cysts, and odontogenic tumors. In: Flint PW, Haughey BH, Lund V, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head and Neck Surgery. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 90.
Martin B, Baumhardt H, D'Alesio A, Nazif MM, McKibben DH, Davis HW. Oral disorders. In: Zitelli BJ, McIntire SC, Nowalk AJ, eds. Atlas of Pediatric Physical Diagnosis. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 20.
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.