In some cultures in Uganda, when a child is 4 to 8 months old, there’s a norm where they are taken to a traditional healer who extracts their unerupted teeth. This is done because it is believed that these tooth buds are a cause of the illness that commonly ails infants this age. This however is a form of Infant Oral Mutilation and has a number of disadvantages which will be elucidated later in this article.
When a child reaches 4 to 6 months, the immunity which was inherited from the mother starts to wear out and the child’s own immunity begins to take over. This may leave a gap during which the child can have a range of symptoms for example fever, diarrhea, rashes, irritability. This is a normal occurrence and can be easily managed by supportive treatment as prescribed by a pediatrician.
Unfortunately in many cultures when this happens, the baby is taken to a traditional healer who rubs the gums with some herbs and then later extracts the tooth bud. This is dangerous and has even resulted in fatalities in a number of incidents.
The dangers that an infant is exposed to include;
- Excessive bleeding.
- Missing milk teeth,
- Damage to the permanent teeth.
The effects of these are profound on the life of the child as they grow up. This is done out of ignorance and misinformation and superstition and it falls upon each of us to educate those who are less fortunate than us in that regard so that this practice can be fully eliminated from our communities.