Dental Health

Legend of The Worm

Mr Mike has had a toothache for the past 3 months. At first, the pain was subtle but it has become excruciating and like an alarm, It wakes him up every night. The pain has robbed him of his beloved sleep. He has done everything he knows taking suggestions from friends and strangers alike. He has used all sorts of concoctions and herbs yet no succour was found.

One faithful day he was introduced to a traditional healer/herbalist, who mixes some concoctions with different herbs. Mr mike is told to put this in his mouth, wait for five minutes and spit out. He does as told and as he spits into a bowl, behold he sees worms crawling numbering up to 12. Alas he is free and for once in a very long while, he expresses a sigh of relief, for all his troubles are gone. He is told those ‘teeth worms’ are the cause of his toothache.

Many of us can relate with this kind of story. Are there really teeth worms or it is just a myth?

The myth of teeth worms have been known to be in existence as far back as 5000BC, long before modern dentist were trained to diagnose or treat tooth pain. It started from America, Germany, Egypt, China and India. It was believed that worms bore holes in teeth and cause pain by wriggling around. The pain was said to subside when the worm rested.

It was not until the 18th century that this myth was debunked. It became accepted in the early 19th century that tooth worms didn’t exist as there was no scientific evidence in support of their existence.

Here we are 3 centuries after, a lot of people in our environment still believe that tooth ache is caused by tooth worms. Some claim they have had worms removed from their teeth several times. To make matters worse, there are even special ‘’clinics’’ especially in the southern part of Nigeria that claims specialist skill in removing teeth worms instantly. This is not peculiar to Nigeria however as one of such clinics was recently busted in india, the owner arrested and their work described as ‘’a trick of a quack’’

However, despite these claims of tooth worm removal, a lot of these patients present in the dental clinic after several attempts of worm removal and recurrent pain for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Also scientific research has shown that there is no macroscopic or microscopic evidence to support these claims. Hence TOOTH WORMS DO NOT EXIST.

What then causes holes and pain in the teeth? Holes in the teeth are caused by dental caries. This is a multifactorial condition that occurs when bacteria in the mouth from accumulated debris called plaque, feeds on sugar from our diet. This interaction produces acid which causes the hard tissue of the tooth to wear away and results in holes overtime. It presents as a painless hole in the tooth and progresses thereafter if left untreated from mild to severe pain.

So teeth worms are just a legend of worms, it is untrue and unfounded.

Until next time, keep giving your oral health the maximum attention




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Dr. Eureka Orhorhoro
Dr. Eureka Orhorhoro is an amazing Dentist, with a strong passion for Health Care Advancement in Nigeria. She believes that the right information is crucial in improving Oral health care and she is ready to make a global difference. she loves reading, baking & cooking.

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  1. Waoo.. Quite enlightening.
    Keep it up

  2. Great! Very informative

  3. Thank u Dr Odiase

  4. Nice one

  5. Quite refreshing. Keep d ball rolling.

  6. Nice one, Good to know

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