Vagina Dentata and Other Weird Body Parts Where Teeth Can Grow
Teeth: they’re not just for mouths anymore. In fact, as these tales of dental abnormalities show, you can find them in a number of places on your body you never thought possible. As the saying goes, “the tooth is out there.” And over there. And waaay up in there.
Lleida, Spain: Vagina dentata (“toothed vagina”) is generally considered to be a myth (just ask Wikipedia) designed as a cautionary tale about the dangers of sex with women, but it’s actually not that far fetched. Archaeologists in Spain uncovered the 1,600-year-old skeleton of a woman with a fossilized tumor in her pelvic region that had four teeth growing out of it. The condition, which still occurs today in the modern age, is known as a teratoma. It is a tumor or cyst that can contain not only teeth, but skin, hair, bone, nails and even (ugh) eyes. In some cases, the teratoma may break through the wall where the uterus connects to the vagina, and voila, it’s a toothed vagina.
Mt. Hope, Trinidad: Miguel Belcon, 18, had shortness of breath throughout his childhood, but he and others had always attributed it to him being overweight. It was only when he started coughing up blood that he visited a hospital, at which point an x-ray revealed a basketball-sized cystic teratoma in his chest that contained teeth, hair and eyes. The cyst took up half of Belcon’s chest, pushing his heart to the side of his body and inhibiting the development of his right lung, which was only about one-fourth the size of his left lung. It took five hours for doctors to remove the teratoma, which weighed a whopping eight pounds, and buoyed by his newfound healthiness, Belcon lost nearly 30 pounds following surgery.
Lenoir, North Carolina: You’ve heard about sticking your foot in your mouth, but what about your mouth in your foot? When 13-year-old Doug Pritchard began experiencing pain in his left foot, he couldn’t have imagined the cause, but when the doctor examined him, he learned “the tooth”: there was a full-grown tooth sprouting from his foot — roots and all. The condition was described at the time as the result of a gene reproducing in the wrong place on the body.
Yongkang, China: Suffering from nasal discomfort and difficulty breathing for five years, 21-year-old Feng Fujia’s condition became unbearable when his co-workers began complaining about the odor coming from his nose. Finally seeking medical treatment, he was shocked to learn that a tooth was growing in his nostril. His doctor’s best hypothesis was that years earlier, Feng bit into something hard that forced one of his upper teeth into his nasal cavity, where it took root.
Sheffield, England: This might not be the greatest showcase for the British health care system. Stephen Hirst, 47, had experienced constant pain in his right ear for more than 30 years — resulting in a disintegrated eardrum and deafness on that side — but despite numerous trips to the doctor, the most help he got was antibiotic prescriptions for ear infections. Then, finally, 33 years after the pain first began, diligent medical personnel used a microscope probe to discover the cause of the problem: a tooth embedded in his ear canal. In the end, all it took to get it out was a pair of tweezers (and a very steady hand). The nurse who retrieved the tooth said it looked like a child’s tooth, and Hirst hypothesized that it became dislodged when he hit the back of his ear in a fall at school during his early teens.
Chennai, India: Nagabhushanam Siva, 23, was born with an abnormal left eye that continued to grow in size as she got older, pushing her eyeball inside its socket and obscuring her vision. While her family was too scared to seek medical attention for her, Siva couldn’t take the discomfort any longer and visited a doctor on her own who diagnosed the issue as a teratoma in her eye (“orbital teratoma”). Upon closer examination, it was discovered that the tumor contained two fully-formed teeth. The teratoma was removed, but the surgery and the damage done to the optic nerve over 23 years caused Siva to lose her eyesight in the affected eye.
London, England: At a meeting of the London Pathological Society cited in the British Medical Journal, a Dr. Port presented the case of a tumor (most likely a teratoma) he had removed from the rectum of a 16-year-old girl that contained long hair and “a well-developed canine tooth.” (A similarly located but toothless cyst was cited a few years earlier in Germany in a case in which a lock of hair the size of a finger would emerge from the anus of the 25-year-old patient after defecation.)