A report published in today's issue of the New England Journal of Medicine documents the discovery of teeth inside the brain of a 4-month-old child in Maryland.
According to the specialists who oversaw this odd medical case, the child came to have teeth inside his skull because of a rare type of brain tumor that he developed.
Information shared with the public says that doctors first figured out that something was off with the baby boy health-wise when they noticed that his head was growing at a fairly rapid pace.
Thus, it was developing significantly faster than the heads of other children his age.
Consequently, they ordered that a brain scan be carried out, and found that a tumor was present inside the boy's skull, Live Science reports.
What's more, this tumor contained structures that looked strikingly similar to the teeth one usually finds on a person's lower jaw, the same source tells us.
Shortly after the scan revealed that the baby boy had a brain tumor, doctors operated on him and removed the mass of tissue that had no business being inside his head.
The surgery was successful, and the tumor was removed. While analyzing the tumor's makeup, specialists found that the strange structures that the scan had previously revealed were in fact teeth.
In the paper in the New England Journal of Medicine, it is detailed that the tumor the child had inside his brain is known to the scientific community as craniopharyngioma.
Specialists explain that this is a very rare type of brain tumor that can sometimes grow to be about the size of a golf ball, but that does not spread.
Several studies have hinted at the idea that such tumors are made from the same type of cells that turn into teeth in healthy individuals.
However, Dr. Narlin Beaty at the University of Maryland Medical Center says that, up until performing surgery on this 4-month-old child, researchers had never before encountered teeth in one such tumor.
Thus, craniopharyngiomas usually contain just calcium deposits, Dr. Narlin Beaty and his colleagues say.
“It's not every day you see teeth in any type of tumor in the brain. In a craniopharyngioma, it's unheard of,” the doctor said.
“When we pulled out a full tooth. I think that’s something slightly different,” he added.
Although teeth have been found in people's brains before, medical researchers say that they were present in another type of tumor known as teratoma.
Such tumors contain all three types of tissue found in an early-stage human embryo. Craniopharyngiomas, on the other hand, contain just one layer of tissue.