Subject: Boy goes to Dentist, returns home minus 232 Teeth
From: Alex Kemp
Date: Thursday, 24 July 2014 11:26:51 +0100
To: Micaela Kemp, Liisa Kemp, Davin Kemp

Hi Micaela.

I do not know whether you got the Kemp teeth, the Addison teeth, the GoLightly teeth or some other teeth unknown or unexpected, but thank your lucky stars that you did not get the Gavai teeth (below).

My father told me that when he got conscripted into the Army (it was World War II at the time) the dentist offered to remove all his teeth (I’ve also come across this elsewhere, and it seems to have been quite a common practice at that time). My father agreed, and the dentist removed all 32 teeth in one session (no anaesthetic, according to my dad) (I’m also uncertain whether any anaesthetic other than ether existed at that time).

I reckon that I must have got the Kemp teeth. At least one feature of ‘Kemp’ teeth is that the Wisdom/Molar roots flare away from each other (think of the letter ‘J’) which causes life to become a little “interesting” if they should need to be extracted. I’ve had at least 2 occasions in which, after ~1 hour of trying to get a tooth out of my jaw, a dentist has said “let’s take a rest”. However, all of these stories pale into insignificance when compared to the story that Ashik Gavai now has.

Ashik is a 17 year old boy that lives in a village in India close to Mumbai. This is Ashik, pictured on Monday, 21 July 2014 with the medical team at Mumbai’s JJ Hospital’s dental department:

Ashik Gavai + JJ Hospital Staff (Ashik is the one not smiling)

18 months ago Ashik developed a swelling in his lower right jaw. A month ago, the pain from that swelling became severe, and his father took him to the hospital, as the local doctors could not work out the reason for the swelling. At the JJ Hospital it was diagnosed as a “complex composite odontoma” (CCO), a rare condition that is a sort of benign tumour.

In normal growth, the gum will give rise first to a milk tooth (20 baby teeth in total) then later to an adult tooth (8 incisors, 4 canines, 8 premolars, and 12 molars (including 4 wisdom teeth)). However, a CCO--which normally occurs in the upper jaw--contains many small teeth rather than just one tooth. The maximum recorded in the past has been a CCO that had 37 teeth extracted from it. As you can see from the picture above & the close-up below, Ashik’s CCO has slightly beaten that record.

The 232 Teeth removed from Ashik’s CCO

Ashik’s CCO was in one of the outer molars next to his wisdom tooth; the wisdom tooth had to be removed as well. Ashik went home with 28 teeth left in his mouth.

In the final coda to this story, some of the folks at the University that I went to were training to be dentists. I recall having very low opinions of them at the time. Ashik had 2 surgeons & 2 assistants working on him. The comment from Dr Sunanda Dhiware (head of the dental department) on what happened seems typical (those of a nervous disposition look away now) “At first, we couldn’t cut it out so we had to use the basic chisel and hammer to take it out.”

Alex Kemp