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Did Teeth Really Grow in a Man’s Throat?

Teeth can grow in some pretty strange places. They have been found everywhere from tumors to eyes to even in brains. But an unusual case in China now has people asking, Can teeth really grow in the throat?

The case involved a man referred to only as Mr. Zhang, who began to have difficulty breathing. Zhang went to Dr. Zhu Xiangping at Jiangsu Subei People’s Hospital in Jiangsu Province, China, where it was revealed that Zhang had what appeared to be dozens of teeth growing in his throat.


The growths are known as Tracheobronchopathia Osteochondroplastica (TO), an extremely rare condition that is categorized as bony, cartilaginous nodules that look like teeth. But are they really teeth?

"No, not really," says Dr. Michele Simpson of Wilmington, North Carolina. "They resemble teeth, but they are really just cartilage."

TO is said to be so rare that there are only 400 reported cases around the world, and just 10 in China.

"TO is most frequently associated with men aged 50 and older," says Simpson. "It can cause extreme difficulty breathing and a deep, painful cough that can cause bleeding."

There is no known cause of TO, but the condition usually develops in the lower two-thirds of the trachea and in some areas of the bronchi. While there is no known cure for TO, there are temporary treatments such as laser therapy and airway stenting, which can provide some relief and help TO patients breathe.

"It’s definitely a puzzling condition, but thankfully it's very rare - and nobody is really growing teeth in their trachea," says Simpson.


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