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7-year-old boy has 526 'tooth-like structures' removed from mouth

Surgeons found a "well-defined bag-like mass" in the boy's jaw that turned out to be 526 "tooth-like structures."
/ Source: NBC News

A 7-year-old boy in India had 526 tooth-like structures removed from his mouth, according to doctors.

The unidentified boy's parents took him to the Saveetha Dental College and Hospital in Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu state, because they feared a swelling of their son's jaw might have been cancer. Surgeons found a "well-defined bag-like mass" in the boy's jaw and removed it during surgery, the hospital said in a press release Thursday.

The 526 "tooth-like structures" that were in the 7-year-old's mouth.Saveetha Dental College

"On further evaluation by the oral pathologists, and to their utmost surprise, the bag revealed 526 tooth-like structures," the hospital said. "In the pathologists’ own words, 'it was reminiscent of pearls in an oyster.'"

It took the doctors five hours to remove all the minute teeth from the bag, according to the hospital in the city formerly known as Madras. The teeth varied from 1mm to 15mm in size, each resembling a tooth with a crown covered by enamel and a root-like structure.

"This is the first-ever case to be documented worldwide, where so many minute teeth were found in a single individual," the hospital said. "This rare lesion is termed as 'compound odontome.'"

The medical team reviews and counts the "teeth-like structures."Saveetha Dental College

According to a case study from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, a compound odontoma is considered a developmental anomaly where tumors made of enamel and dentin are formed. Odontomas are typically detected in people by the age of 20 but can be diagnosed at any age.

The 7-year-old boy had swelling in the right side of his lower jaw.Saveetha Dental College

The boy's parents originally took him to see doctors for jaw swelling when he was 3 years old, but their son did not cooperate with the doctors due to his young age and the swollen area continued to grow over the years. The hospital did not specify exactly when the surgery to remove the growth took place.

"The surgeons’ discretion in removing the lesion in total without exploring it on the operating table (akin to opening a bag of worms) avoided a major mishap and saved the patient from being under general anesthesia for a longer duration and the attendant complications," the hospital said.