Aged 9 years 327 days, Ryan Scarpelli (USA, b. 3 September 2011) has become the youngest person to have a wisdom tooth extracted.
This record was last broken 20 years ago, in 2002, when Matthew Adams (USA) had his lower two wisdom teeth removed at the age of 9 years 339 days.
Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, are positioned behind the other two molar teeth in each quadrant of the mouth. They are the last permanent teeth to come through and usually do so during a person’s late teens or early twenties.
Ryan Scarpelli’s record-breaking wisdom tooth was first noticed in April 2021 by his orthodontist, Dr Kelly Morgan of Morgan Orthodontics in Virginia.
A 3D x-ray showed that a wisdom tooth and molar were growing on top of each other in the upper-left quadrant of his mouth.
"I was shocked. I could not feel it at all," Ryan recalled.
"My orthodontist said it needed to be removed so that the molar could drop properly."
Ryan was referred to an oral surgeon, Dr Craig Vigilante of Potomac Surgical Arts, who confirmed that the tooth needed to be extracted in order to make space for his upper-left second molar to drop.
On 27 July 2021, Ryan sat down in Dr Vigilante’s chair to have his wisdom tooth removed. He did not yet know that he was the youngest person ever to undergo this procedure.
Ryan said he felt "very scared" when he first sat down.
"I did not know if it was going to hurt or what it would feel like once they removed it."
At the time, he had not even lost all of his baby teeth yet (Ryan’s last baby tooth fell out in the summer of 2022).
Although Ryan didn’t experience any pain while his wisdom tooth was growing in his mouth, he did feel some after it was removed.
"I felt like I got punched super hard in my mouth," he said.
In the days following his operation, Ryan could only consume soft foods and liquids, such as milkshakes, jello, yoghurt and apple sauce.
On the plus side, Ryan was very excited about being able to keep his removed tooth, especially as he didn’t remember receiving it during the hazy aftermath of his surgery.
"They must have given it to me while I was still asleep because I could not find it but then the next day, I found it in my pocket," Ryan said.
"It was scary, but it really wasn’t that bad. And before I knew it, my mouth was back to normal." – Ryan Scarpelli
After Ryan's operation, his mother, Shelly Scarpelli, had a hunch that her son may have broken a world record.
"I knew that 9 years old was very young for a wisdom tooth to be removed so I did some research and learned that the youngest person on record was 9 years and 339 days," she recalled.
After calculating Ryan’s exact age at the time of his tooth removal, Shelly realized that Ryan had indeed broken a 20-year-old record!
More importantly though, Shelly is "very grateful" that Ryan’s orthodontist caught the issue early and it was able to be resolved promptly, avoiding complications further down the line.
On receiving his Guinness World Records title, Ryan said, "it feels really good and makes me proud."
As previously mentioned, wisdom teeth usually come through between the ages of 17-25. However, Ryan isn’t the only record-breaking exception to the rule.
The oldest person to grow a wisdom tooth was Robert W. Gray (USA), who was 94 years 253 days old when a wisdom tooth was discovered during a routine dental cleaning on 23 August 2017.