It’s July 2019, and a boy named Ravindranath is on the operating table in a hospital in Chennai, India. The youngster had been complaining of jaw ache for some time, and naturally that had led his parents to get him checked out by professionals. But as dentists take a closer look at the swollen area, they can barely believe their eyes. And what they begin to take out is truly shocking.
Ravindranath’s dental issues had started a few years ago, although initially there may not have been much cause for concern. After all, it’s common for children to complain about toothache from time to time, and a trip to the dentist usually helps rectify any problems.
When their son was a toddler, though, Ravindranath’s mom and dad had noted that his jaw was somewhat swollen. That wasn’t the end of the problems, either, as around four years after that, the youngster began to mention that there was a pain in his mouth. Something was just not right, it seemed.
So, in order to discover the cause of Ravindranath’s discomfort, his mouth was X-rayed. Then, after dentists had looked over the results, they told the boy’s concerned parents that he required an operation. Even following that treatment, however, the specialists were still left gobsmacked when they started the surgery and saw what was inside for themselves.
Nowadays, many of us do our best to maintain our health – whether that’s through looking after our diets or by adopting regular fitness routines. But even if you’re as fit as a fiddle physically, your dental hygiene definitely shouldn’t be taken for granted.
Just like our bodies, it takes some work to keep our teeth looking fresh and healthy for the most part. A thorough brush at least twice a day is all-important, of course, while flossing and using mouthwash can both help, too. Despite your best efforts, however, there will come a time when you need to book an appointment at the dentist.
Now, the thought of visiting the dentist can be quite terrifying – especially if you require a procedure that involves a drill. In many cases, though, a bit of prodding and poking around the gums is as bad as things will get. And if you’re fortunate enough to have pretty tip-top teeth, then spare a thought for those who suffer from a rather troubling and unusual dental issue.
Known as hyperdontia, this condition is believed to affect over 200,000 people in the United States each year. And while the problem is most common in those aged between 14 and 60, children can also be susceptible. But what exactly is hyperdontia? Well, the following description by Healthline should help clue you in.
The medical website explains, “Hyperdontia is a condition that causes too many teeth to grow in your mouth. These extra teeth are sometimes called supernumerary teeth. They can grow anywhere in the curved areas where teeth attach to your jaw. This area is known as the dental arches.”
“The 20 teeth that grow in when you’re a child are known as primary, or deciduous teeth,” the post continues. “The 32 adult teeth that replace them are called permanent teeth. You can have extra primary or permanent teeth with hyperdontia, but extra primary teeth are more common.” At that stage, the website touched upon the symptoms of the condition.
The most telling sign of hyperdontia, it seems, is the sudden appearance of any teeth behind your adult or primary “baby” teeth. Healthline also claims that men are more likely to suffer from this issue than women. But despite how uncomfortable this may all sound, people can work through it.
As Healthline goes on to explain, “Hyperdontia usually isn’t painful. However, sometimes the extra teeth can put pressure on your jaw and gums, making them swollen and painful. Overcrowding caused by hyperdontia can also make your permanent teeth look crooked.” Taking that into consideration, the post then offered up some advice to any sufferers out there.
For one, people don’t necessarily need to have the extra teeth taken out – especially if they’re not causing any major problems. Unsurprisingly, though, that changes fairly quickly if the additional teeth start to have any kind of negative impact on the individual with hyperdontia.
“While some cases of hyperdontia don’t need treatment, others require removing the extra teeth,” Healthline explains. “[And] if the extra teeth are starting to affect your dental hygiene or other teeth – like delaying the eruption of permanent teeth – it’s best to remove them as soon as possible. This will help avoid any lasting effects, such as gum disease or crooked teeth.”
“If the extra teeth only cause you mild discomfort,” Healthline adds, “your dentist may recommend taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen for [the] pain.” Sadly, though, one teenager living in India in 2014 had had to battle through the distress all by himself – at least, to begin with.
Yes, although 17-year-old Ashik Gavai had been struggling with a swollen jaw for around a year and a half, the doctors in his community couldn’t provide him with any answers. In order to get to the bottom of the problem, then, Ashik’s dad, Suresh, chose to take matters into his own hands.
At one point, Suresh even feared that his son might have a form of cancer. In a bid for answers, then, the worried father took his son to Mumbai. And after the pair arrived at the city’s JJ Hospital, they discussed Ashik’s mysterious medical issue with Dr. Sunanda Dhiware.
Dr. Dhiware was in charge of dentistry at the hospital, and it was her team that solved the mystery. And while looking back on the case in a 2014 interview with the BBC, she touched upon what happened next. The physician said, “Ashik’s malaise was diagnosed as a complex composite odontoma, where a single gum forms lots of teeth.”
Dhiware added of the condition, “It’s a sort of benign tumor. At first, we couldn’t cut it, out so we had to use the basic chisel and hammer to take it out. Once we opened it, little pearl-like teeth started coming out one by one. Initially, [when] we were collecting them, they were really like small white pearls.”
Then, after Dhiware and her team had finished removing the “pearls”, they counted an astonishing total of 232 teeth. The operation itself had lasted around seven hours and had been overseen by four people. And thanks to the hospital staff’s efforts, the teenager was left with a more regular number of teeth – a perfectly satisfactory 28 – at the end of the delicate procedure.
Following the surgery, though, Dhiware reflected on the unusual nature of the condition. The sight of all those teeth had left her stunned, in fact – although that’s perhaps no surprise. You see, Ashik had seemingly surpassed the experienced physician’s expectations of complex composite odontoma – which in itself is a form of hyperdontia.
“[I had] not seen anything like this before in my 30-year career,” Dhiware admitted to the BBC. “[But I was] thrilled to get such an exciting case. According to medical literature available on the condition, it is known to affect the upper jaw, and a maximum of 37 teeth have been extracted from the tumor in the past.”
Dhiware added, “But in Ashik’s case, the tumor was found deep in the lower jaw, and it had hundreds of teeth.” Then, around five years on from that eye-opening story, another tale emerged from India in the summer of 2019. And it could easily be argued that this particular incident was far more shocking than even Ashik’s story.
Young Ravindranath had been suffering with a swollen jaw ever since he had been a toddler – and the cause of the discomfort didn’t seem to be obvious, either. Then, when Ravindranath’s mom and dad eventually picked up on their son’s discomfort, they acted fairly quickly in bringing the boy to a medical facility. Unfortunately for all concerned, though, the trip didn’t exactly go according to plan.
Speaking to The Times of India in August 2019, Ravindranath’s dad, S Prabudoss, shed some light on that visit. “We took [Ravindranath] to a government hospital,” the father said. “But [the doctors] could not convince him to sit down for tests. We also let it go, as we thought he was just a small kid.”
After that, though, the problem persisted for another few years. Then, when Ravindranath noted a pain in his jaw in 2019, his parents initially put the ache down to a decaying tooth. Looking to get a definitive answer on the issue, however, Ravindranath’s mom and dad ultimately took him to the Saveetha Dental College in Chennai. And while Ravindranath was there, the staff were able to carry out an X-ray of his mouth.
But when the doctors at the facility looked at the result of the X-ray, they may have been shocked. According to the scan, Ravindranath had a sac nestled into his jaw containing countless “abnormal teeth.” It seemed, then, that he was suffering from a case of compound composite odontoma – an additional form of hyperdontia.
At that stage, the physicians sprang into action, explaining the situation to Ravindranath’s mom and dad. And following a quick conversation, the pair agreed that their son should have an operation to remove the growth. After a couple of hours, the youngster himself also came to terms himself with what needed to be done.
So with everything in place, Ravindranath’s operation was scheduled for July 2019. This procedure would be overseen by two dentists and would last for a couple of hours. And the college’s Dr. Senthilnathan would explain what happened during the surgery when talking to The Times of India.
Senthilnathan recalled, “Surgery was inevitable. Instead of breaking open the bone from the sides and leaving a large hole, we drilled into it from the top. Luckily, [Ravindranath] did not require any reconstruction of the jaw. There was a sac with tiny teeth that had to be carefully removed so that they didn’t chip and break away.”
Then, once the sac had been taken out, a team of doctors attempted to empty its contents as delicately as possible. Incredibly, they spent between four and five hours clearing the teeth from the growth. And when the procedure had been completed, there was a sensational announcement: an incredible 526 teeth had been removed from Ravindranath’s jaw.
While in conversation with The Times of India, a physician named Dr. Prathibha Ramani also revealed details about the condition of the teeth and their appearance. She said, “The teeth were in different sizes that varied between 0.1 mm (0.04 inches) to 15 mm (0.6 inches). They looked like pearls in an oyster. Even the smallest piece had a crown, root and an enamel coating like a tooth.”
But Senthilnathan felt the need to raise an important point after completing the surgery in Chennai. In particular, the dentist seemingly didn’t want the unusual findings from the operation to steal the local headlines. Instead, he hoped that his work would help make an impact in India’s dental sector.
“This is not just about our surgical accomplishment,” Senthilnathan told The Times of India. “It’s about the need to improve paediatric dental care and create better awareness about oral hygiene and dentistry among people.”
And Senthilnathan also touched upon the topic with CNN as the story went viral over the summer of 2019. He said, “Earlier, things like not as many dentists, lack of education [and] poverty meant that there was not as much awareness [about dental health]. These problems are still there.”
Senthilnathan subsequently outlined the current situation with dental hygiene in India. “You can see people in [the] cities have better awareness,” the physician added. “But people who are in rural areas are not as educated or able to afford good dental health.” Ravindranath, by contrast, had had a successful procedure – not least because he was now free of pain.
So, how many teeth was Ravindranath left with following the operation? Well, when he was discharged from the hospital a few days after the surgery, the young boy had only 21 teeth in his mouth – a far cry from the astonishing amount that the dentists had dug up. And while Ravindranath probably won’t have two molars on his lower right jaw when he’s older, Dr. Ramani has suggested that he could get some implants to fill the gap when he turns 16 or even 17.
Yet there was one more mystery that needed to be untangled following the surgery: why this had happened to Ravindranath in the first place. And while Ramani believed that the compound composite odontoma wouldn’t come back, she couldn’t say this for sure.
In fact, Ramani could only speculate as to the cause of Ravindranath’s condition – although she had her suspicions. You see, the hospital had been conducting tests on individuals who resided close to cell phone towers in India, and this led the doctor to make a potential connection between these cases and that of Ravindranath.
“[The] biopsy results showed [that Ravindranath’s condition] was just [an] abnormal growth,” Ramani told The Times of India. “There could be a strong genetic connection, but we cannot rule out environmental factors such as radiation from mobile towers.” Still, although the findings were somewhat inconclusive, there is nevertheless some happy news: Ravindranath is believed to be recovering well with his parents.
Yes, when Ravindranath complained of jaw pain, there’s no way that his parents could have imagined what would transpire. It’s just lucky that they took him to a doctor when they did. Not everyone, however, is as fortunate as this little boy was. Take Vadim Anatoliyevich Kondratyuk, for instance, whose seemingly trivial case of toothache in 2017 ended up having devastating consequences.
Good health is perhaps one of the most crucial components of a happy life. And, fortunately, medical knowledge has come on in leaps and bounds over the centuries, meaning that doctors can now successfully treat almost anything that ails you or your loved ones. We certainly shouldn’t discount dentists’ role in keeping us well, either.
Yes, even if you practice meticulous dental hygiene by brushing and flossing regularly, you may find yourself suffering from issues with your teeth. Should such problems arise, though, dentists are on hand to look at them. And in 2017 Vadim Anatoliyevich Kondratyuk definitely found himself in need of some treatment.
At that time, Vadim was traveling from California to New York in his truck to complete a job. As the journey progressed, however, he developed a toothache that caused him to make a brief stop in Oklahoma. And upon a visit to a local dentist, the driver ultimately discovered that the pain stemmed from an infection.
After that, Vadim resumed his trip to New York feeling a lot better. The discomfort returned, however, as he approached the Big Apple, leading him to contact his wife, Nataliya. And as Vadim’s condition deteriorated, the trucker’s brother tried to get him back home. Tragically, though, the stricken man passed away in Utah a few days later.
It’s fair to say that a visit to the dentist can be quite daunting. Indeed, the thought of having someone poke around your mouth with strange utensils – not to mention terrifying drills – is just too much for some people. Despite any fears we may have, though, we all know that regular check-ups are incredibly important in maintaining the health of our teeth.
And throughout the centuries, dental care has continued to evolve. Looking after our teeth certainly isn’t a new practice, either. Indeed, research unveiled in 2017 suggests that people from over 100,000 years ago used their own implements to keep their mouths healthy and clean.
It’s also believed that members of South Asia’s Indus Valley Civilization were being treated by dentists from around 7,000 B.C. In addition, studies have further revealed that ancient Malta housed some dental practitioners in approximately 2,500 B.C. However, the first officially recorded dentist was actually someone who lived in Ancient Egypt.
Hesy-Ra was the man in question, and he ultimately earned the nickname “Great one of the dentists.” And in the centuries that followed, different aspects of dentistry continued to crop up in the archaeological record – through writing or physical evidence of treatment.
Then, in 1530, the first book dedicated to dental practice – a European publication titled Artzney Buchlein – was released. English readers were made to wait for over 150 years, though, before a similar text hit their shelves. That book was named Operator for the Teeth and had been penned by a man named Charles Allen.
And perhaps one man more than any other played a crucial role in the progression of dentistry. Throughout the 1700s, you see, French doctor Pierre Fauchard not only developed a number of tools that were intended for dentists’ use, but he also pioneered the practice of filling teeth.
Fauchard’s work didn’t end there, either, as he also helped develop braces and dental prosthetics. It’s perhaps no wonder, then, that the physician has since earned the nickname “the father of modern dentistry.” And hundreds of years later, dentists still employ most of the treatments that Fauchard spearheaded at their respective practices.
However, while dentists have all the equipment they need to treat their patients today, they still face some lingering issues. And arguably one of the biggest concerns is ensuring that people see them on a regular basis so that they can help keep their mouths and teeth healthy. The American Dental Association even felt the need to release a statement on the matter in 2013.
“To maintain optimal oral health, the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends regular dental visits at intervals determined by a dentist,” the statement read. And from there, the organization revealed why it was sharing this message with the public.
The statement continued, “In the June 10  issue of the [Journal of Dental Research], researchers from the University of Michigan School of Dentistry explored the link between long-term tooth loss and frequency of preventive dental visits in adults with and without three risk factors for periodontal disease: smoking, diabetes and interleukin-1 genetic variations.”
The ADA then revealed exactly what the research had found. “The study concluded that individual risk factors help to dictate the frequency of cleanings needed per year to help prevent periodontal disease,” the organization explained. “Based on data analysis, researchers speculate that high-risk patients would likely benefit from more frequent dental visits.”
And the ADA came to a conclusion of its own at the end of the statement. According to the association, those results prove that people shouldn’t neglect visiting their dentists. “The key takeaway for consumers is that personalized oral care is a necessity for good dental health,” it added.
The message therefore concluded, “The ADA encourages people to work closely with their dentists to identify any potential risk factors that would determine the need for – and frequency of – follow-up visits,” the message concluded. But while the organization did its part to inform the public, in January 2017 a simple toothache seemingly led to a man’s death.
A resident of Antelope, California, Vadim spent his formative years in the Golden State after his family had left their home country of Ukraine. And he met his partner, Nataliya – who is also originally from the Eastern European country – as a teen, with the couple eventually tying the knot in 2012.
After that, the pair became the proud parents of two young girls named Maya and Vanessa. And to put food on the table, Vadim plied his trade as a trucker while his wife looked after their daughters at home. So, in early 2017, the Californian took on a long-distance job that required him to drive all the way to New York.
Vadim thus took to the road in late January from the California town of Truckee. Part-way through the trip, however, the driver started to feel some pain in his mouth, and this led him to make a quick stop in Oklahoma to visit one of the local dentists.
Then, following an examination, Vadim was informed that he had a tooth infection, which was subsequently treated at the practice. The dentist also handed him some antibiotics before sending him on his way. Now feeling much better, the trucker went back to his vehicle and hit the road again.
However, the toothache eventually returned, leaving Vadim in a lot of discomfort. And the pain steadily became more intolerable while he headed towards New York, as he mentioned to Nataliya in a number of different phone calls. But the father of two was still able to complete the trip, as ultimately he arrived in the Big Apple.
By this time, though, Vadim’s mouth had swollen up – only adding to the pain he was already in. The trucker realized, too, that he was unable to make the return journey back to California. But there was at least some good news to be had: Vadim’s brother came to his aid and booked a flight to New York.
Then, after Vadim’s brother arrived in the city, the pair boarded the truck, got back on the road and headed for California. Unfortunately, though, Vadim’s condition deteriorated further over the course of that trip. His skin had lost color, for one, and he was also finding it harder to breathe.
So, Vadim’s sibling made an emergency stop in Utah, where he took his brother to a hospital. Before long, the father of two was then transported to another clinic located in Salt Lake City, where he received some further treatment and was hooked up to a kidney dialysis machine.
It turned out that the infection from Vadim’s tooth had spread to other parts of his body, including his lungs. So, with the situation looking bleak, Nataliya headed to Utah to sit by her ailing husband. And, sadly, on the morning of January 30, 2017, Vadim passed away as a result of the infection.
“[The doctors] had [Vadim] on medication. They tried everything they could,” Nataliya later told The Sacramento Bee. “We prayed for him that day [and] that night, hoping he was going to survive. But God has his plan. We had a talk with the doctors, and they told us how this all happened.”
Nataliya went on, “[The infection] was just not healing how it was supposed to. It was just getting worse.” The mom of two also discovered that Vadim had been suffering from diabetes prior to his death. And diabetes was one of the risk factors previously flagged up by the ADA, as the condition can also cause problems with teeth.
“There’s a host of studies indicating that people with diabetes are at greater risk of [cavities and tooth decay], periodontal disease, cardiovascular disease, you name it,” Dr. Richard Niederman of the NYU College of Dentistry told People in 2017. “It puts you in a higher risk category.”
Then Dr. Niederman then tried to explain how a tooth infection could cause someone to die. Yes, while such a condition may initially appear fairly innocuous, any kind of untreated infection can ultimately prove catastrophic. And tragically for Vadim’s young family, that’s exactly what happened to him.
“Any infection anywhere in the body can lead to death if it’s uncontrolled,” Dr. Niederman continued. “So if you have an infection in the tooth, that infection eats away at the tooth. It’s a bacterial infection, [so] it releases acid. And the acid etches the tooth just like acid would etch glass.”
Dr. Niederman added, “Over time, that etching becomes a hole. That hole gets to the pulp, the nerves and the blood vessels, and now the bacteria can enter the body.” According to Nataliya, Vadim had seen his dentist a short time before his passing, but that visit had been in order to treat an issue with one of the trucker’s other teeth.
In Dr. Niederman’s mind, then, the situation could have been easily avoided if the infection was noticed sooner. “There are home and office methods to prevent it that are underused – particularly by dentists,” the physician told People. “This is probably somebody who had had an ongoing problem that wasn’t addressed by anybody.”
And Nataliya’s brother would go on to shed some light on how she was coping after Vadim’s sudden passing. Unsurprisingly, the heartbreaking events of those few days had taken their toll on the Antelope resident. “She is doing okay,” Vlad Kazimirets told People. “But it’s been really hard for her.”
Vlad seemingly tried to lessen the load for his sister, however, by setting up a GoFundMe fund for Nataliya and her family on the day of Vadim’s death. And on the page for the campaign – which had a target of $250,000 – he chose to praise his late brother-in-law.
“Vadim was a very humble and calm person [and] a wonderful father, husband, brother, son and friend,” Vlad wrote on the fundraising website. “He always put others before himself and was the peacemaker. He had a very close and special relationship with his two daughters, and he loved spending time with his family.”
From there, Vlad explained how any money given would be spent. “Your donations will be used to pay for funeral and living expenses and to create a safety net for the future welfare of [Vadim’s] young family,” he continued. “These funds will also be used to help pay for the transport of [his] body.”
Vlad added, “[Vadim’s body] is out of state and will need to be brought back home to Sacramento, CA, for the funeral and burial.” And people would respond to the appeal in their droves, as within a matter of days the GoFundMe page brought in close to $200,000.
Vlad returned to the website, too, to reveal the family’s reaction to the heartfelt gestures. “On behalf of Nataliya, her daughters and all of [their] family, thank you sincerely for your support during this difficult time!” he wrote. “We have been blown away by the love and kindness we have been shown by our friends, family, community and even strangers.”
Vadim was finally laid to rest in a Sacramento cemetery on the morning of February 4, 2017. The evening prior, the Slavic Trinity Church had held a special service in commemoration of the late father, where people had come together to remember him. And since Vadim’s passing, the GoFundMe page has raised almost $280,000 – far surpassing the original target.