For decades, a Chinese woman suffered from constant congestion and nosebleeds. When she finally sought medical help, doctors were amazed to find a fully grown tooth in her nasal cavity.
For the 57-year-old patient, identified only by her surname Xia, the persistent stuffy nose, congestion, and nosebleeds were just a way of life. She had dealt with these symptoms for decades, and had resigned to the idea that her nose was always inexplicably sick.
Could it be a severe case of non-allergic rhinitis, an inflammation of the mucus membranes inside the nose? Maybe she was suffering from a deviated septum, a condition where the thin wall separating the nostrils is not aligned properly, and can cause similar symptoms to what Xia described. Or perhaps she was perpetually fighting a nasty cold that seemed to linger forever.
At the Hunan Provincial People's Hospital, doctors did a scan to see if there were any obstructions. Indeed, the scan revealed a circular object sitting in her right nasal passageway.
“Scans showed a high-density shadow in her right nasal cavity. We thought it was a foreign object or some sort of stone,” said Zhou Jianpo, an ear, nose and throat specialist.
In surgery, the doctors were shocked to discover the object wasn’t a stone. Rather, it was a fully-formed tooth, complete with root and crown.
The condition is known as supernumerary teeth or hyperdontia, and occurs a person has extra teeth besides the normal set. While it sounds like science fiction, the condition is not all that unusual for dentists, as around 4 percent of the population can have extra teeth. In most cases, the extra teeth occur along the dental arch of the jawbone. However, as evidenced by Xia’s case, the extra teeth can also grow in other odd places, though the incidence of these are much more rare.
While the cause of supernumerary teeth is not known, doctors on the case speculate that “causes of intranasal teeth include trauma, infection, anatomical malformations, and genetic factors.”
After the extra tooth was removed, Xia reported improvements on all nose-related symptoms. For the first time in decades, she found relief from the unending congestion, stuffiness, and nosebleeds – she can now truly breathe.