After suffering from a blocked and runny nose for over two years, a man discovered his cold-like symptoms were actually the result of something scarcely ever seen by medical professionals: an extra tooth lurking in his nasal cavity.
The strange story is the subject of a medical report in BMJ Case Reports this month. The 59-year-old man headed to University Hospital Aarhus in Denmark with complaints of a blocked left nostril, a strange runny discharge, and a reduced sense of smell. Doctors examined his nose and noticed his septum (the cartilage bridge in the middle of the nose) was bent to the left and there appeared to be a mass lodged in his nasal cavity.
A CT scan revealed that the blockage was caused by an intranasal tooth that had erupted inside his nose. He underwent an endoscopic sinus surgery and the white mass was removed using forceps. After 10 days of antibiotics and nasal saline irrigation, the man made a full recovery and reported no further symptoms.
Thankfully, the study authors note that this is an exceptionally rare phenomenon, so you shouldn't worry too much if you're experiencing a blocked nose. However, the rarity of this case does mean there’s very little medical literature on the matter.
So, what caused the curious case of the intranasal tooth?
One clue, the doctors argue, is that he experienced “facial trauma” in his youth resulting in a broken nose and jawbone. His broken nose was so severe, it required repositioning. While the trauma didn’t appear to affect his teeth at the time, it’s possible that a displaced tooth might have later erupted into the nasal cavity.
They also note that it’s possible the tooth had been there throughout most of his adult life, despite him only experiencing symptoms in the last couple of years.
“Our patient most likely had the intranasal retained tooth most of his life, but had late onset of symptoms,” Dr Milos Fuglsang of the University Hospital Aarhus writes in the case report.
A study in the American Journal of Case Reports from 2014 details a similar case about a 22-year-old in Saudi Arabia who suffered frequent nosebleeds as a result of a tooth in his nasal cavity. In this guy’s case, the patient was believed to have mesiodens, a relatively common condition that results in an extra tooth to poke out between the two central incisors. For an unknown reason, this person’s erupted and resided in their nasal cavity.