Infant oral mutilation
Infant oral mutilation (IOM) is the dangerous and sometimes fatal traditional or conventional dental malpractice that has been performed for decades in many areas of Africa and in underdeveloped countries.
Typically, a parent may take a sick child to a traditional healer, who will look in the child's mouth and attribute the illness to "tooth worms". The healer will point out the small, white, developing tooth buds as being "tooth worms", and then dig the "worms" out of the gums without anaesthesia using a non-sterile tool such as a hot or sharpened nail, a bicycle spoke, or a knitting needle. The eye teeth are often the ones pointed out, as they are more prominent. The tooth buds are then shown to the parent, their small, milky appearance somewhat resembling worms.
This practice inflicts pain and suffering on a child who may already be sick (or who may be teething), and in some cases it is carried out on a healthy child in a bid to prevent illness. The procedure may lead to shock, and loss of blood may lead to anaemia. The unhygienic methods can cause blood infections, tetanus, pass on HIV/AIDS, and can on occasion be fatal. The underlying permanent tooth buds can be damaged or eradicated, causing malformations and long term crowding. In addition, the existing illness may not receive the medical attention necessary.
There is published evidence of IOM occurring in Chad, D.R.Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. It has also been observed in African immigrants now living in France, Israel, USA, Australia, Norway, New Zealand and the UK. A Literature analysis of the above published papers with full references is available at http://www.dentaid.org/resources/iommaterials
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