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.
Bayer ML, Drolet BA. Disorders of the mucous membranes. In: Kliegman RM, Stanton BF, St. Geme JW, Schor MF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier;2016:chap 664.
Khorsand K, Sidbury R. Common newborn dermatoses. In: Gleason CA, Juul SE, eds. Avery's Diseases of the Newborn. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 106.
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.