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Early Aesthetic Dentistry in the Philippines: An Anthropological Perspectiv


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Aesthetic dentistry in the manner of tooth modification or ornamentation existed in the Philippines long before the Spaniards first arrived. Tooth filing, gold pegging and staining were the popular methods used then. For beauty, style and not to have features similar to that of animals, have been cited as reasons for its practice.
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Early Aesthetic Dentistry in the Philippines
Corresponding author: Angelina A. Atienza, DDM, MOH
Department of Basic Sciences
College of Dentistry
University of the Philippines Manila
Pedro Gil corner Taft Avenue, Ermita, Manila 1000 Philippines
Telephone: +632 3026360 or +632 3023983
Early Aesthetic Dentistry in the Philippines: An Anthropological Perspective
Angelina A. Atienza
Department of Basic Sciences, College of Dentistry, University of the Philippines Manila
The practice of dental ornamentation can be regarded as
the earliest form of aesthetic dentistry. Tooth encrustation in
Mesoamerica dates as far back as 14001000 BC. It has been
recorded in Central and South America, Africa, India,
Australia, and Asia. In Asia it has been known to exist in
Japan, China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the
Philippines. Terms such as tooth mutilation, scarification,
modification, ornamentation, decoration, and, until recently,
tooth transfigurement have been used to describe these
Historical, anthropological and archaeological records
give plenty of evidence of its custom in the Philippines.
Beautification, style, peer pressure and differentiation from
white-toothed animals have all been cited as underlying
reasons for its practice.3-7
In general, there were six methods of tooth modification
in the Philippines: “(1) filing the front teeth down slightly so
they are even; (2) filing or sawing the front teeth down even
with the gums; (3) filing or chipping the front upper teeth to
points; (4) filing concave grooves on the outer surface of the
upper front teeth; (5) putting gold caps on filed teeth, or gold
fillings or brass wire in holes bored in the front teeth; and (6)
dyeing the teeth black.8 The Bagobos, Visayans,
Bukidnons, Hanunoos, Ilongots, Mamanua Negritos,
Manobos, Casiguran Dumagats, Negritos of Pampanga,
Negritos of Zambales, Remontados of Rizal, Samals,
Sambals, Sangils, Subanuns of Sindangan Bay, Sulod Society,
and the Tirurays are noted to have practiced tooth
modification. Tooth filing was most likely observed in the
past in Mindanao and Sulu, practiced by 4 of the 7 Negrito
groups in Luzon, the Ilongots (a non-Negrito group), and
some of the Visayan and Palawan groups, but it appears not
to have been performed by any of the highland groups in
Historical records
The earliest written record appears to have been made
in 1178 by a Chinese, Chou Ch’u-fei, who wrote of
encountering “a fierce tribe with gold pegged teeth”,
possibly from the mountains of Mindanao or Borneo.10
Spanish chroniclers have contributed significantly to the
knowledge of the practices of tooth modification by the early
Filipinos. In 1521, Antonio Pigafetta wrote of encountering a
native chief of Northern Mindanao “who had three spots of
gold in every tooth and his teeth appeared as if bound with
gold.”9 Accounts in the Boxer Codex,6 of Fr. Chirino,11 and of
Fr. Bobadilla12 are similar with regard to their descriptions of
customs of the Visayans, in which the teeth are filed either to
an even and uniform, or to a pointed and saw-like
appearance, stained black or red, and decorated with gold.
Practiced from early childhood as a mark of beauty and
stylishness, it was noted that “there are among them for this
need very great artisans.”6
The 1617 Leyte-Samareño (Waray) dictionary of Fray
Sanchez provides information on the local terms used at the
time. An entry notes that the “smiles of a person with
undecorated teeth were baga napkangnan huligid [like a
chaw of coconut meat]”, and that the purpose of the filing of
teeth was to make them even and symmetrical, or create
spaces between the teeth, or to saw them into points. The
process of tooth filing was called sangka. Teeth were stained
in a number of ways. Regular chewing of anipay root made
the teeth black. To give “the appearance of polished ebony”
as well as to preserve the teeth, tapul, a tar-based coating,
was applied. For a deep red color, lakha (red ant eggs) were
used. Kaso flowers were used to color the teeth and
fingernails and the habitual chewing of betel nut heightened
and preserved the effect. Gold work on the teeth was termed
pusad and the dental worker was a manunusad. Fray Sánchez
even gave an example of how the terms were used, “Pilay
sohol ko nga papamusad ako dimo [How much will you charge
me for gold teeth]?” A gold covering on the tooth, whether it
was plating (held by gold pegs) or a crown (extending
Early Aesthetic Dentistry in the Philippines
2VOL. 48 NO. 1 2014
beyond the gum and also held by pegs) is called halop. It was
the practice to first flatten the surface of the tooth. Holes
were then drilled with the use of an awl called ulok and the
gold pegs, bansil, were inserted. Variations in gold
decoration could come in the form of simple pegs that
“looked like gold dots on ivory dice when filed flush with
the surface of the tooth. (Si Awi, king of Butuan, had three in
each tooth.) But if the pegs were tack-shaped, their flat
heads overlapped like golden fish scales; or if round-headed,
they could be worked into intricate filigree like designs
similar to beadwork.” The gold work was made more
attractive if set on a tooth that was stained vermillion red or
jet black.13
Fray San Buenaventura, in the Vocabulario de Lengua
Tagala (1613), recorded the existence of metallurgy or metal
working even before the Spaniards arrived and the
production of dental inlays with the use of gold.14
In Labor Evangélica (1663), Fray Colin writes that the
Filipinos “greatest anxiety and care was the mouth, and
from infancy they polished and filed the teeth so that they
might be even and pretty. They covered them with a coating
of black ink or varnish which aided in preserving them.
Among the influential people, especially the women, it was
the custom to set some of the teeth most skillfully with gold
which could not fall out, and gave a beautiful appearance.”15
Similarly, the 17th century voyager Joseph de Laporte
wrote of seeing a nation of Indios who file and stain their
teeth as “their great ambition is to have neat and even teeth.
They have them filed carefully and then covered with a
black tincture for preserving them; women of the highest
standing decorate them with thin strips of gold.”16
Interestingly, as recalled by his sister Espiridiona, even
Andres Bonifacio filed his teeth with a piece of broken
earthenware to even them out.17
Archaeological evidence
Archaeological artifacts are physical proof of the
practices of the early Filipinos. The earliest evidence of
staining is perhaps those found in the Duyong Cave
excavation (part of the Tabon Caves) where adult teeth were
found to be stained.9
An excavation headed by Dr. Carl E. Guthe between
1922 and 1925 in burial caves off the west coast of Samar
unearthed hundreds of human teeth showing some
discoloration or staining possibly from betel nut, while
others had evidence of being filed into points or flattened on
the labial surfaces. Many of the graves were associated with
Chinese trade vessels that date back to the Sung Dynasty
(960-1279 CE). Part of the collection, housed at the Museum
of Archaeology of the University of Michigan, consists of 43
human anterior teeth with gold ornamentation. Gold
pegging is the term used to describe the process by which
the gold is attached to the teeth. In 1937, Dr. Leslie F.
Rittershofer did a detailed technical examination of the 43
teeth and his findings included the following:
The teeth had holes bored on the labial surfaces
numbering anywhere from one to seven which were
sometimes arranged in a triangular pattern.
The holes varied from 12.3 mm in diameter and were
drilled using a cylindrical instrument with a round end
or base.
The gold peggings or plates were attached to the teeth
purely by mechanical retention as the diameter of the
base was larger than that of the surface. The gold was
assumed to have been hammered into place.
Designs ranged from single to multiple peggings,
plating of the entire labial surface, some even having
four-leaf patterns, and polished.
Some of the teeth showed decorative filing that gave
them a V-shaped appearance, while some showed
staining most likely from betel nut.
Metal analysis of some of the discs showed it to be an
alloy of gold, silver and copper. The color and specific
gravity however revealed that they were predominantly
Since no caries were found on any of the teeth thus
having no need for any restorative measures, and that
no gold was found where it could not be seen, he
concluded that they were placed solely for decorative
The Bolinao skull, a cultural treasure of the National
Museum, excavated from a 13th15th century burial site in
Balingasay, Bolinao, Pangasinan, exhibits dental
ornamentation on the six upper and lower anterior teeth
with a fish scale design or pattern and pegged with gold
wire rivets.”19 Other excavations by the National Museum
such as in Calatagan, Batangas,20 Sta. Ana, Manila, Bulan,
Sorsogon, Pila, Laguna, Marinduque, Samar and Butuan
have yielded similar finds of filed, chipped, stained and gold
decorated teeth (Figures 1-4). The practice of gold pegging
was seen more frequently in central and southern
Philippines and that “…all pegged teeth from Museum
excavations date from the ‘Age of Contact and Trade with
the East, or after about 1200 CE.9
Into the 20th Century
The practice of tooth modification carried on until the
20th century among the different ethnic groups. Reed
reported that the sharpening of the anterior teeth was
customary among the Negritos of Zambales. It was done
voluntarily and at no particular age. Although mainly for
adornment, it also “enabled them to eat corn with greater
ease.” Called talihan, the process required the operator's
precision.21 Worcester documented the procedure as “a chip
of wood is placed back of the tooth to be operated on, the
point of a bolo is pressed firmly against the front surface of
the tooth and the bolo is struck with a sharp blow with a
Early Aesthetic Dentistry in the Philippines
stick or stone, so that a corner of the tooth is chipped off.
This operation is repeated on the other side and an artistic
point is thus produced.” Admirably the teeth are well
preserved and the pulp were kept intact.22
Fox documented the Pinatubo Negritos and their
practice of teeth chipping. Termed as táyad, it was
“considered a mark of beauty and maturity and, more than
any other single factor, culturally distinguishes an
individual living in the Pinatubo area as a Negrito.” His
account of the process is similar to that of Reed and
Worcester. The operation could be performed by either a
man or a woman and should the person whose teeth are
being chipped show signs or make a remark about pain
during the process he would be obligated to pay the chipper
a small fine. And should a fragment of his tooth hit a
bystander he was likewise to pay the person who was
Figure 1. Filed upper left lateral incisor and canine to an
even level and its staining along with the upper first
premolar. (Courtesy of Mr. Alfredo E. Evangelista)
Figure 2. Chipped and stained lower right canine. (Courtesy
of Mr. Alfredo E. Evangelista)
Figure 3. Flattened and stained upper incisors. (From the
Puerto Galera Museum)
Figure 4. Multiple gold pegging arranged in a triangular
pattern of an upper central incisor. Excavated from a burial
site in San Remegio, Cebu, it is estimated to be 800 to 1,200
years old. (Courtesy of Mr. Zigfred M. Diaz)
Christie wrote that it was common for the Subanuns to
grind their upper front teeth using stones with the effect that
the labial surfaces of the incisors appeared concave while the
canines were sharpened. The teeth were blackened after.
Staining was accomplished by dissolving iron in lime juice
or some acidic liquid. This was then rubbed on the surfaces
of the teeth. The process was often done when the individual
reached maturity.23
Cole's report “Wild Tribes of Davao District”
documented the Bagobos, Manobos (Kulaman), Tagakaolos
(Saka) and the Mandayas (Mansaka) as practicing filing and
blackening of teeth. Common to all is that the procedure was
practiced by both men and women of the tribe, for the
purpose of adornment or beautification and done at about
the age of puberty. Cole notes that for the Mandayas it was
“so that the young person may be more beautiful and,
therefore, able to contract a suitable marriage.”
The process of tooth filing and blackening among the
Bagobos was described as follows: “the candidate places his
head against the operator and grips a stick of wood between
his teeth while each tooth is filed so as to leave only the
stump, or is cut or broken to a point. When this has been
successfully accomplished, what is left of the teeth is
The staining of the teeth could be done in two ways.
Most common was to take a variety of bamboo known as
balakayo, whose one end was placed on glowing coals while
the other end sat on a piece of metal. This resulted in the
“sweating” of the burning bamboo that left deposits on the
metal. This deposit was then rubbed at intervals on the teeth
for several days until they became shiny black. The second
method was to use a powder, tapEl, taken from the lamod
tree which Cole believed to be the tamarindus. The powder
was wrapped in leaves and chewed. During the treatment
period the individual was strictly forbidden to drink water,
cook or eat anything sour, or even attend a funeral. If he did,
then his teeth would have a poor color or be "sick." Once the
Early Aesthetic Dentistry in the Philippines
4VOL. 48 NO. 1 2014
teeth had been properly beautified the young person was
then considered ready to enter society.
For the Mandayas the procedure for filing and
blackening the teeth was described as follows: Filing was
formerly done with small stones but imported files are now
used for this purpose. The coloring is effected by chewing
the roots of the anmoñ vine and applying to the teeth the
sweat caught on a steel blade, held above burning bark of
the magawan tree. This practice seems to have no significance
other than that of beautifying the person and saving the
youth from the ridicule of his fellows. To keep the teeth
black, tobacco treated with lemon juice which has stood on
rusty iron is chewed frequently.3
In 1922, Cole wrote that the Tinguian men and women
blackened their teeth as personal adornment but did not cut
or mutilate them. Blackening even took on a semi-magical
procedure. A mixture of tan-bark and iron salts is twice
applied to the teeth, and is allowed to remain several hours;
but, in order to obtain the desired result, it is necessary to
use the mixture after nightfall and to remove it, before the
cocks begin to crow, in the morning. If the fowls are heard,
while the teeth are being treated, they will remain white;
likewise they will refuse to take the color, should their
owner approach a corpse or grave.”4
Garvan recounts the practice of tooth mutilation among
the Manobos of Mindanao. The process started with the
insertion of a piece of wood to separate the teeth. It took
about 3 to 6 hours of grinding the teeth and was spread out
anywhere from 3 to 10 days. Sandstone was then used to
grind both the upper and lower teeth to the level of the
gums. When finished “the teeth of the upper jaw appear
convex and those of the lower, concave.” Both sexes at
puberty had their teeth ground. So as not to look like having
a dog’s mouth are words of encouragement that were often
said for the patient to endure the painful process. The mau-
mau plant, which has both narcotic and blackening
properties, was chewed and rubbed on the grounded tooth
stubs. The practice of betel nut chewing was another way by
which the teeth were stained.24
Galang noted that dyeing the teeth black was practiced
from north to south in the Philippines. The Kalingas stained
their teeth to beautify and preserve them and this was done
between the ages of 14 to 21 for the men, and at puberty for
the women. The local term among the Mañgali-Lubo group
is tubug, and beasig for the Lubuagan group. The staining
process was described as follows: “The material used is the
black resinous substance from dried guava bark, burnt and
rubbed against the landuc or babalasigan, an iron implement
where the substance is accumulated. Before the subject
retires, the black resinous substance is heated and rubbed
with the fingers on the teeth until they are entirely black.”
To maintain the color, the procedure was usually done once
a week or when it faded. In Sulu, the mineral antimony was
used to stain the teeth black.7
In 1977, Headland noted that the practice was still active
among the following groups: “in Luzon: Zambales Aeta,
Casiguran Dumagat (Agta), Ilongot, and Palanan Dumagat
(Agta); in Mindanao: Sangil, Sangir, Ilianen Manobo,
Maranao, Tigwa Manobo, Cotabato Manobo, Tagakaulu
Kalagan, Mamanua, Ata Manobo, and T’boli; in Palawan:
Kalamian Tagbanwa, Molbog; in the Sulu area: Central
Sinama (Samal), Yakan, Tausug and Southern Samal.”8
Winters noted that in Bukidnon “adults cut the incisors
horizontally across almost midway in their length and then
bore a hole through and inlay them with brass wire. They
also blacken and stain the teeth.” The Negritos “chip their
teeth to a point.” The Tagbanwas of Central Palawan, men
and women alike, “grind their upper teeth with a sandstone
and dye them black with lime apag which takes about an
hour.” For the Ilongots of Nueva Vizcaya, “both males and
females file their teeth in a cylindrical shape, so as to
separate one well from the other. They are then blackened
by the soot and oil from a heated iron. The operation is
begun at the age of fourteen.” The Pinatubo Aetas of
Zambales “clean their teeth with fine sand quartz, do not
chew betel, and prize pointed white teeth.” The Tasadays
ground their front teeth and blackened them as only
animals have white teeth.” For the staining practice, after
filing, “the enamel of the front surface of the tooth may be
removed, more likely to facilitate the blackening of the teeth.
For this, a kind of varnish is used. Coconut shell is burnt,
and smoke or soot mixed with oil or other ingredients is
Over 900 years after it was described by Chou Ch'u-fei,
does the practice of tooth transfiguration still exist?
Twenty-first century aesthetic dentistry now offers
tooth bleaching with the goal of attaining the whitest of
teeth. Although this is a shift from the previous practice of
tooth staining, it still results in the alteration of the tooth’s
natural color. Meanwhile, whereas filing or chipping the
teeth to modify its shape and create spaces between them
was the practice then, modern dentistry is more commonly
employed to reshape teeth to close gaps and make them
more even (Figure 5). Nor is tooth encrustation a thing of the
past. Now termed tooth jewelry, tooth bling or twinkles and
promoted as "adding sparkle to the smile", it is a trend
among the young following celebrities, particularly popular
Today, tooth ornamentation is less invasive as well as
reversible. Instead of drilling the tooth, the ornament is
bonded onto the tooth much like an orthodontic bracket.
Ornaments can range from yellow or white gold studs to
crystals and gems. Dental grills (also called grillz, fronts or
golds) are removable dental jewelry that snap over the teeth.
These are often made from noble metals (silver, gold or
Early Aesthetic Dentistry in the Philippines
platinum) or even base metal alloys with gems set into it to
add glitter.
Figure 5. Reshaping of the teeth with composite resin to
close gaps make them look more even.
Other variations of present day tooth ornamentation are
the addition of metal studs on restorative crowns (Figure 6)
and tooth tattooing wherein ceramic crowns are painted
with a design of ones choice. A cheaper and very temporary
alternative to tattooing is the use of adhesive stickers on the
front surfaces of the anterior teeth.
Figure 6. Present day teeth ornamentation with metal studs
attached to acrylic crowns.
As was the case hundreds of years ago, to be
fashionable and at the forefront of style, the author has
observed that the current practices as described above
remains a major motivation for the practice of aesthetic
dentistry today.
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... This is made evident by the striations and the rolling of the distal ends of each plate, consistent with the effects of biting and chewing. The written accounts of gold pegging are seen throughout, such as a Chinese account from 1178 AD and the famous manuscripts of Antonio Pigafetta from 1521 AD (Pigafetta 1525 of events of 1519-1522; Atienza, 2014). The practice of gold pegging teeth in the Philippines is perhaps most popularly seen with the Bolinao skull from Balingasay, Bolinao, Pangasinan, dated from the 14th to 15th centuries AD. ...
... The gold pegging styles similar to X-2014-O-800 have been documented in both historical accounts as well as archaeological. These utilized a triangle pattern of pegs or shaped plates, with the pegs varying in number from 1 to 7 per tooth (Rittershofer, 1937;Atienza, 2014). The practice of this style of dental modification was most often seen in the central and southern parts of the archipelago (Filipino Heritage, 1977). ...
... They were mostly attributed to the Age of Contact in Southeast Asia ca. 1200 AD (Winters, 1977;Atienza 2014). ...
Full-text available
The Calumat Open Site (COS) is in the Municipality of Alubijid, Province of Misamis Oriental, Philippines. The site, situated on top of a hill, was considered the first settlement of the people in Alubijid. The 2019 archaeological excavation conducted by the University of the Philippines-Archaeological Studies Program addressed the chronology of the site's antiquity. Relative dating indicated that the area may have been occupied as early as the Neolithic period (ca. 3000 BC) until the coming of the European Recollect missionary in 1622. One of the interesting archaeological finds was the discovery of the human burial in Trench 2. Grave goods (celadon bowl, metal blade and worked shell artifact) were found associated with the burial along with dental modification. These grave furniture or "pabaon" were thought to accompany the deceased into the afterlife and ensure the safety of their spiritual journey. In this study, collagen samples were extracted from the bones, found in the burial, by gelatinization. Bones were subjected to radiocarbon dating using accelerator mass spectroscopy. The result suggested that burial may be dated between 774 and 1030 AD with reference to the relative dating of the funerary goods and dental modification, which are significant in interpreting and understanding the socioeconomic activities in the first millennium AD. The findings from the COS contribute to the knowledge of the archaeology of the island of Mindanao and the archipelago in general.
... Drilling on the tooth surface to form holes is called inlaying. Some societies also place metal ornaments on the teeth as part of the modification practice (Atienza 2014;Jones 2001;Mower 1990). Lastly, the removing of select teeth (again, often the incisors and canines) is also known as tooth ablation -this practice can be done with either deciduous or permanent teeth (Mower 1990). ...
... Knowledge of intentional dental modification in the Philippines is taken from historical accounts, ethnographic writings, and the archaeological record. In sum, the common dental modification practices here involve filing, chipping, inlaying and plating, and blackening or staining through betel nut chewing (Rittershofer 1937;Atienza 2014). ...
... The SEAMEO SPAFA International Conference on Southeast Asian Archaeology and Fine Arts Atienza (2014) notes that several Chinese scholars and Spanish travelers documented encountering indigents -usually of high-status in their local communities -with modified teeth due to gold-pegging, filing, and coloring or staining. However, Spanish scholar Juan Francisco de San Antonio wrote that many Filipino indigents had abandoned (or were forced to) dental modification practices by the mid-eighteenth century (Rittershofer 1937). ...
Conference Paper
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Since prehistoric times, humans have changed select characteristics of their bodies, such as tattooing, hair-dyeing, cranial and feet deforming, and teeth modifying. Teeth are some of the most well-preserved remains in the archaeological record, with which we can study past cultural and ritualistic beliefs. Previous publications on dental modifications in Southeast Asia are mostly limited to the mainland, thus this paper reviews modifications observed in prehistoric sites across Southeast Asia, identifying common techniques and motivations. Findings show occurrence of dental ablation, filing, plating, and coloration, which began in the Neolithic, disappeared in the Bronze Age, but reappeared in the Iron Age, although the absence may be due to sampling shortage. Modifications have been associated to aestheticism, group identity, rite of passage, practicality, and medical benefit, but whether these all ring true remains uncertain. It is recommended that future research expand scope for better data representation, analyze modifications with context of community profiles, and investigate the significance of migration in the prevalence of certain techniques and patterns as part of understanding the cultural aspects of past humans’ lives, and assess the cultural (dis)continuity of these traditions into modern-day forms of body modification, art, healing, self-expression, and identity. Magmula sinaunang panahon, maitatala ang mga pagbabagong pisikal sa katawan, tulad ng pagtatato, pagkukulay ng buhok, at pag-iiba-anyo ng ulo, paa, at ngipin. Nabibilang ang ngipin sa mga lubos na napepreserbang artepakto sa arkiyoloji, at sa gayo’y magagamit pang-aral ng mga nakalipas na kultura at ritwal. Kasalukuyang limitado sa mainland ng Timog-Silangang Asya ang saliksik sa intensyonal na modipikasyon ng ngipin, kaya tatalakayin dito ang mga sinaunang modipikasyong nabanggit sa buong rehiyon, at tutukuyin ang pagkakatulad sa mga teknik at motibasyon. Nagsimula ang paglaganap ng sadyang pagtatanggal, pagliliha, pagkakalupkop, at pagkukulay ng ngipin noong Panahong Neolitiko, naglaho noong Panahong Tanso, at bumalik muli pagsapit ng Panahong Bakal, ngunit maaaring iukol ang paglaho sa kakulangan ng datos. Hindi pa tiyak, pero pwedeng ang mga modipkasyon sa estetisismo, pakikisama, pagriritwal, praktikalidad, at benepisyong-medikal. Inirerekomendang palawakin sa susunod na saliksik ang sakop para sa mas mabuting representasyon ng datos, suriin ang mga modipikasyon sa konteksto ng komunidad, at imbestigahan ang kahalagahan ng migrasyon sa paglaganap ng mga partikular na teknik at padron habang inuunawa ang mga aspetong kultural ng sinaunang panahon, at tasahan ang pagpapatuloy (o hindi) ng mga tradisyong nabanggit sa kasalukuyang modipikasyon ng katawan, sining, paggagamot, pagpapahayag ng sarili, at identidad.
Temporary adornments such as clothing and hairstyle, or more permanent markers such as tattoos, scarification, piercings, and dental modification have been used in the past (and to this day) to indicate group membership. These vary over time with political and economic circumstances to signal sex/gender, ethnicity, and ideology. They have been associated with mourning to demarcate marital status, as a mechanism to ward off illness, and as a fashion statement. Many techniques used are associated with considerable pain upon implementation, and sometimes for the remainder of one’s life. Such purposeful pain is a known consequence, at times even one of the goals of the process. This chapter looks at tooth modification, reviewing the diversity of techniques from simple scratching of the dental crown, staining, tooth removal, and inlays. Dental etchings have been found on Viking teeth from Sweden, Denmark, and England. Most are linear furrows found on the anterior surface of the maxillary teeth. Some are only visible in a certain light; others are so deep they reach the dentin. Alveolar infections, carious lesions, and/or pulp degeneration have been noted consequences in some cases.
Full-text available
The Agta (Dumagats) method of teeth mutilation is to saw through the top six incisors and canines with a file so that they are flat and even even with the gums and, usually, to keep them dyed black. The operation is done in late puberty, for aesthetic reasons, and is voluntary. The procedure is not religious or magical. Between 1962 and 1975 the operation was performed on approximately 26% of the teenage population.
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