FactPack: Teeth

Regular dental checkups are an important part of looking after our teeth. But for some people, the prospect of having to face the dentist’s drill – or worse, have a tooth removed – is enough to cause sleepless nights. Spare a thought, then, for 17-year-old Ashik Gavai. After suffering from a painful, swollen jaw for almost 18 months, the Indian teenager checked in to the dentistry department of Mumbai’s JJ Hospital, hoping the experts there would be able to get to the root of his discomfort. The cause? Hundreds of extra teeth, clustered together in Ashik’s lower jaw.

It took a team of two surgeons and two assistants seven hours to remove all the unwanted teeth – which included a large, solid lump of dental tissue that had to be chiseled into smaller pieces. In total, 232 teeth were extracted from Ashik’s mouth, which is thought to be a world record.

Ashik was suffering from a type of benign tumor called a complex odontoma, which occurs when dental tissue begins to grow uncontrollably, creating an abnormal mass in the patient’s mouth. These types of tumor aren’t cancerous, and can often go unnoticed for many years without causing any harm. However, in Ashik’s case, the mass was exerting a large amount of pressure on his jaw, causing pain and damaging the bone.

Since the operation, Ashik has been recovering in hospital, and will remain on a liquid diet until he’s able to chew and swallow solid food. He will have to return for regular checkups, just to make sure that the teeth do not start to grow back, but doctors are confident that his jaw will heal completely – leaving Ashik with a standard, 28-toothed smile.

Watch FactPack: Teeth to learn more about teeth.