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First identified in 1827, ameloblastomas develop from the remnants of the epithelium or dental enamel. These tumors develop outside the bone, and can overtake the jaw and the tissue around it, including the tongue. In addition to causing tooth displacement, they can produce osteoclasts and make chewing difficult. Although a majority of these abnormal tissue growths are benign, these tumors can grow aggressively, causing facial asymmetry and impeding the functionality of surrounding tissues and organs. Ameloblastomas account for 11 percent of odontogenic tumors (jaw cysts) and 1 percent of all head and neck tumors.

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1. Who is Affected?

The average age range for people affected by ameloblastomas is 30 to 40. Reports suggest maxillary -- upper jaw -- ameloblastomas tend to occur in older individuals, while other types more commonly develop in younger people. Some studies search for ethnic or racial components, due to claims that black and Asian populations experience increased occurrences.

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