Strange Dental News

strangedentalnewsDoctors pulled a tooth out of a man's … what?

After suffering from nosebleeds once or twice a month for three years, the 22-year-old man in Saudi Arabia consulted a doctor, who found an ivory-white, bony mass, about half an inch (1 centimeter) long in the man's nose. The doctors then consulted with dentist colleagues, who concluded that the mass was actually an extra tooth that had somehow ended up growing in his nose, according to the report.

The patient had a well-aligned and complete set of teeth in his mouth, according to the report.

The doctors pulled out the extra tooth after putting the man under general anesthesia, and the patient completely healed, and had no more nosebleeds three months later, according to the report, published in July in the American Journal of Case Reports.

Extra teeth are not that uncommon, and may even grow upside down, but they rarely grow all the way into the nasal cavity, said Dr. John Hellstein, a dentist and professor of oral pathology at the Universityof Iowa, who wasn't involved in the case.

"It's an unusual case of an extra tooth — certainly, the most impressive intranasal photo I think I've ever seen of one. I've never seen the tooth actually in there," Hellstein told Live Science. [16 Oddest Medical Cases]

It is surprising that the nasal tooth had gone unnoticed for such a long time, Hellstein said.

Somewhere between 0.15 percent and 3.9 percent of people have more teeth than normal, studies have found. "We see several cases each year," Hellstein said. "But for it to have erupted up and through the nasal floor — that's unusual."

The patient in this case likely had a mesiodens, a common type of extra tooth, which is found around incisor teeth, Hellstein said. "About a third of those actually develop upside down, and they can get rerouted upward, towards the nose," he said.

It's not clear why some people develop extra teeth, or how one can erupt and reside in the nasal cavity. However, it is thought that genetic factors may play a role.

One condition that is associated with extra teeth is cleft lip and palate, which is a facial development birth defect and is often repaired by surgery. It is possible that the surgery impacts how teeth develop later in life, Hellstein said.

Email Bahar Gholipour or follow her @alterwired. Follow Live Science @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Originally published on Live Science.

George Washington's Weakness: His Teeth

georgewashingtonWhen George Washington opened his mouth 225 years ago this Wednesday at New York’s Federal Hall to take the oath as the first president of the United States, he wore awkward-fitting, painful, face-disfiguring dentures. For years, he had suffered from dental problems; that morning he had swollen, burning gums and only a single original tooth in his mouth. He wore this particular set of dentures during the last nine years of his life. They clacked and creaked open and shut on tight wire springs.

Folklore notwithstanding, Washington’s false teeth were not wooden. He obtained them instead from horses, donkeys, cows — and human beings. (According to his account books, in 1784, emulating some of his affluent friends, he bought nine teeth from unidentified “Negroes” — perhaps enslaved African-Americans at his beloved Mount Vernon; the price was 122 shillings.)

Washington strove, in life, to resemble a monument. This was important to his self-esteem and, he believed, to the dignity and credibility of his fledgling nation. To him, the dentures were a mortifying sign of weakness. (For years, Washington’s dentures were kept out of public view to avoid marring his image; they are now a popular attraction at Mount Vernon’s excellent museum.)

He once pleaded with his dentist, John Greenwood, by letter, to avoid any change to the denture “which will, in the least degree force the lips out more than now do, as it does this too much already.” Members of his cabinet sadly noted how rarely the tight-lipped president smiled or laughed. Others insisted that his embarrassment about his dentures, which sometimes caused him to hiss as he spoke, made him reclusive.

The French mathematician and philosopher Pascal once said that had Cleopatra’s nose been shorter, “the whole face of the world would have been changed.” Had Washington kept his original mouthful of gleaming white teeth, the commanding president might have been even more effective in using the force of his personality on Hamilton, Jefferson and the other combative Americans he dealt with in the 1790s. These dentures also underscore the axiom that anyone nostalgically longing to reside in some earlier century should ponder what daily human life was like before modern dentistry.