Floating teeth

Case contributed by Dr Ian Bickle


Elderly gentleman with left sided facial mass

Patient Data

Age: 75
Gender: Male

This patient presented with a similar complaint around a decade previously for which he had a right hemi-maxillectomy performed.

Previous right hemi-maxillectomy.

The dentition of the upper left side of the jaw are 'floating' due to extensive destruction of the alveolar process of the left maxilla from a large mass.

Case Discussion

Floating teeth is a description given to the appearance of teeth, which appear to be 'swinging in fresh air' without any obvious bony anchorage.  It is uncommonly observed and can occur as a result of a range of underlying pathologies - both benign and malignant.  Causes range from metastases to Langerhans cell histiocytosis.

Regardless of the cause, it results from destruction of the periapical bone of the alveolar process of the mandible or maxilla.

Following surgery, this case was identified as a peripheral nerve sheath tumor on histopathology.

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