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Yes, boy had 526 teeth removed – but image manipulated

An image posted on Facebook in South Africa shows a close-up of a person’s top jaw, with a curve of ordinary teeth but dozens of other teeth crowded between it on the roof of the mouth.

“A 7 year old child had removed 526 teeth,” its description reads.

Is this what the image shows? We checked.

Tooth-like structures removed from boy’s mouth

Adults normally have 32 teeth. In childhood they replace baby teeth, of which there are usually 20. But some people have a condition called hyperdontia, in which they grow extra teeth – known as supernumerary teeth.

And one child did have 526 “tooth-like structures” removed from his mouth.

In 2019 a seven-year-old boy was taken to the Saveetha Dental College and Hospital in Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu state in India, for a mass in his mouth. 

The college reported that the swelling had been left undiagnosed for four years. At first, the surgeons were not sure what the mass was, except that it weighed about 200 grams.

“On further evaluation by the oral pathologists, the bag revealed 526 tooth like structures,” the college said

The mass of teeth was removed in a five-hour operation. The teeth varied in size from 1 millimetre to 15 millimetres and “each resembled a tooth with crown covered by enamel and a root-like structure”.

The college also published a video about the procedure.

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, this type of mass is called a compound odontoma, a developmental anomaly where tumours made of enamel and dentin are formed. 

The story was reported by several news organisations, including SkyNews and NBC news

Image manipulated

But the image posted on Facebook does not show hyperdontia or compound odontoma. It is a photo of an ordinary mouth that has been digitally manipulated.

Using image-editing software, the normal teeth have been duplicated to make it appear to show a severe case of hyperdontia. Fact-checkers at Snopes have circled some of the duplicates to make the digital manipulation more clear.

Some people do grow many extra teeth, and a boy did have 526 “tooth-like structures” removed from his mouth. But the image has been altered and does not show this. – Taryn Willows


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