Canine tooth bud removal is a process of gouging out an infant’s canine tooth buds, using unsterile tools such as Sharpe blade, garlic, or knitting needle, without anesthesia (1). This practice has been existing for many years in Africa due to the strong belief of the community as a preventive or curative measure of diarrhea, vomiting, fever and retarded growth in children (2, 3).
Canine tooth bud removal is common in developing countries, especially in East Africa, 70% in Sudan (4), 35% in Kenya (5), 16.1% in Uganda(6), 60.3% in Tanzania(7) and 59% in Ethiopia(8). The practice of canine tooth bud removal is 70% in some populations in Ethiopia (9), and 100% among infants younger than 18 months admitted to a hospital in southern Sudan (10).
According to spot surveys and public campaigns on oral health in Kenya, 72% of women had removed the tooth bud of their child, traditional birth attendants remove deciduous canine tooth bud and 52% of them doing this to cure diarrhea(11,12). The procedure of canine tooth bud removal can lead to loss of the canine or malformed tooth and the adjacent teeth, depending on the degree of local trauma inflicted on the bud that could not be removed during the procedure(2,8,13). The major symptoms that led parents to turn to a traditional healer were: persistent fever, diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, failure to suckle, and crying with unknown cause(1,7,8,11,13–15).
In order to develop appropriate and effective preventive measures towards oral mutilation practice, the extent of the problem and its effect on the developing dentition should be investigated. Therefore, this study is aimed at assessing the impact of canine tooth bud removal in the dentition status.