- Doctors discovered a 28-year-old man with difficulty breathing had a tooth growing in his nose.
- They surgically removed it and his symptoms resolved.
- Ectopic teeth in other areas of the mouth aren't uncommon, but finding them in the nose is rare.
A 38-year-old man who had been struggling to breathe through his right nostril for years finally discovered the surprising culprit — a rogue tooth — after visiting clinicians at a Mount Sinai ear, nose, and throat clinic.
The man hadn't suffered any blows to the face, and didn't have any visible face or head abnormalities, the doctors wrote in a December report in the New England Journal of Medicine.
But he did appear to have a deviated septum, or when the bone and cartilage that separates the nostrils is off-center or crooked, and bone-like growths protruding from the back of his nose.
When the doctors, oral and maxillofacial surgeons Dr. Sagar Khanna and Dr. Michael Turner, conducted a more invasive exam, they found "a hard, nontender, white mass" in the right nostril. It had all the characteristics of an "inverted ectopic tooth," or a essentially an upside-down tooth in the wrong place.
The surgeons removed the tooth, which turned out to be 14 millimeters, without complication. Three months later, the patient was breathing normally.
Rogue teeth typically grow in other areas of the mouth — not the nose
Ectopic teeth aren't uncommon, but they typically grow in other parts of the mouth like the roof if there's not enough room along the gumline, according to Australian orthodontis Dr Peter McMahon. Like a lot of orthodontic issues, genetics play a role in your risk. Women are more likely to experience ectopic teeth, which begin to develop in utero.
It's rare to see teeth in the sinuses, however. In order to add more to the literature on the topic, one 2013 paper described six instances in which chompers grew in the maxilary sinus, or the cavities below the cheeks, above the teeth, and on the sides of the nose, according to Healthline.
One 21-year-old woman had experienced pain and swelling over her cheek for a month, and another 48-year-old woman had heaviness and numbness near her left cheek and lip for months. A couple of the patients described didn't have major symptoms, but their out-of-place teeth were discovered during scans for other procedures.
The clinicians recommend removing the teeth and surrounding cysts, which can become cancerous.