526 teeth removed from 7-year-old Indian boy's jaw, doctors say

Credit: Saveetha Dental College and Hospital

Credit: Saveetha Dental College and Hospital

Years after his parents first noticed swelling in his jaw, a 7-year-old Indian boy underwent surgery to remove a mass that contained more than 500 teeth, according to doctors.

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The boy underwent surgery last month at Saveetha Dental College and Hospital to remove the growth in his lower jaw, a news release from the hospital said. The baglike growth weighed about 200 grams and contained 526 teeth varying in size from 1 to 15 millimeters, according to doctors.

The 7-year-old boy was initially taken to a hospital in Chennai after complaining of jaw pain, hospital officials said. He was transferred to Saveetha Dental College and Hospital, where tests including CT scans revealed the tiny teeth in a tumorlike growth in his jaw, the Times of India and New Indian Express reported.

Dr. P. Senthilnathan, head of the hospital's department of oral and maxillofacial surgery, told the Express the surgery took about an hour and a half.

"Under general anesthesia, we drilled into the jaw from the top," Senthilnathan told CNN. "We did not break the bone from the sides, meaning reconstruction surgery was not required. The sac was removed. You can think of it as a kind of balloon with small pieces inside."

The boy told reporters on Wednesday that he no longer had any pain after the surgery left him with 21 normal teeth, the Times reported.

The boy's parents had first taken him to a hospital in Chennai after they noticed swelling in his right lower jaw when he was 3 years old, doctors said. He refused to cooperate, and doctors were unable to diagnose the problem at the time, officials at Saveetha Dental College and Hospital said.

The swelling continued and no teeth came in on the right side of the boy's jaw until he was 7, doctors told The Hindu. His parents believed he was suffering from a decayed tooth or possible cancer of the jaw, according to doctors and the Times.

Dr. Prathiba Ramani, head of oral and maxillofacial pathology at Saveetha Dental College and Hospital, told CNN the boy had a rare condition known as a compound composite odontoma. In 2014, doctors at Mumbai's JJ Hospital removed 232 teeth from a 17-year-old boy who had the same condition, according to BBC News.

It was not immediately clear what caused the abnormal growth. Ramani told reporters Wednesday that contributing factors could have included genetics or environmental factors, like radiation from cellphone towers, the Express reported.

Senthilnathan told CNN the case highlighted the importance of seeking immediate treatment for dental problems and maintaining good oral health.

"Earlier, things like not as many dentists, lack of education, poverty meant that there was not as much awareness. These problems are still there," Senthilnathan told the news network. "You can see people in cities have better awareness but people who are in rural areas are not as educated or able to afford good dental health."

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