The average person has 32 teeth – and we use them to bite into a delicious apple, chew a piece of meat or form the sounds in certain words.
But what happens when we have too many teeth? “No problem,” you mutter under your breath, “one or two more can’t hurt, right?” Maybe not, but how about five extra teeth?
Meet Vijay Kumar from India who has 37 teeth in his mouth – with five more than the average person he hold the world record for the person with the most teeth.
According to the Guinness World Records Kumar beats the previous record of 36 teeth.
The 27-year-old has always been aware of his unique feature, but did not realise it was a world record. He believes this accolade makes up for the challenges he faces on a daily basis.
“Wherever I go, I have to brush after lunch,” he told Guinness. “Sometimes if I don’t clean it up, seeds get stuck in the upper jaw.”
Smile, you have 37 teeth!
You might wonder how one person can grow so many teeth.
“Extra teeth are found occasionally,” says Dr Kevin Smith, a dentist from Cape Town. “[There is space] behind the wisdoms, as well as in the incisor area, but it is not common.”
Dr Shenaaz Chodree, a dentist from Johannesburg agrees with Dr Smith. “Genetics can play a part as to whether you have missing teeth or even extra teeth,” he says.
“The body produces the tooth buds that eventually form the teeth. It’s determined a long time before the actual tooth erupts.”
It is not clear whether Kumar has a history of an abnormal number of teeth in his family.
Effect on oral health
According to Dr Smith, crowding as a result of extra teeth and the crookedness that follows can make cleaning very tricky. “Sometimes it is better long term to remove the extra teeth to make cleaning easier.”
Dr Chodree shares this opinion: “Usually extra teeth come out in a bad position or get stuck in a position where you can’t reach them to clean. This then results in problems with gums and decay.”
Dr Chodree thinks Kumar should only go this route if it’s really necessary. “If here is sufficient space for all the teeth to erupt, which is rare… then you should have no problems, provided you have a low sugar intake and brush twice and floss daily.”