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Long-term dental implications of infant oral mutilation: a case series


Infant oral mutilation (IOM) is a ritual ceremony practised mostly in African cultures, in which the primary tooth bud of the deciduous canine is extracted. Complications and risks of IOM include pain, heavy bleeding and infection that may deteriorate to life-threating conditions. The main long-term consequence of IOM is future dental abnormalities. The scientific literature lacks in-depth analyses of the dental sequelae of this practice among adults who underwent it, and particularly of the aspect of dental treatment. Eight new cases of IOM are presented in this case series, with emphasis on dental diagnosis and treatment modalities. We describe different outcomes of this practice, such as enamel hypoplasia and crown deformations with later necrosis and infection of the root canal system, severe discolouration, immature root apex, impaction of a canine, failure of development and missing lower permanent incisors and canines, an odontoma-like structure, severe periodontal defect and root dilaceration. Familiarity with the practice of IOM is vital in order to identify its manifestations and arrive at the correct diagnosis and optimal course of treatment.

Key points

  • Eight new cases of infant oral mutilation (IOM) are presented, with emphasis on dental diagnosis and treatment modalities.

  • Outlines immediate and long-term adverse effects of IOM.

  • Appoints the long-term harmful impacts of IOM on the dentition and the periodontal tissues.

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The authors wish to thank Ms Esther Eshkol for editori and Dr Roy Gadassi for enabling access to relevant medical records.

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Authors and Affiliations



N.D. - data curation; investigation; project administration; conceptualisation; writing - original draft. T.B. - data curation; investigation; project administration; conceptualisation; writing - review and editing. A.L. - data curation; writing. Y.Z. - data curation; writing. J.B.I. - data curation; writing. H.A. - data curation; writing. A.H. - data curation; writing. G.B. - data curation; writing. M.S. - methodology; supervision; validation; project administration. All authors reviewed the manuscript. Both first and second authors contributed equally to this manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Talia Becker.

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The authors declare that PRICE guidelines have been followed for this case series. Conflicts of interest: none.

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Dinur, N., Becker, T., Levin, A. et al. Long-term dental implications of infant oral mutilation: a case series. Br Dent J 231, 335–340 (2021).

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