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01.12.2018 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2018 Open Access

BMC Oral Health 1/2018

Current status of nylon teeth myth in Tanzania: a cross sectional study

BMC Oral Health > Ausgabe 1/2018
Emeria Abella Mugonzibwa, Febronia Kokulengya Kahabuka, Samwel Charles Mwalutambi, Emil Namakuka Kikwilu
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1186/​s12903-017-0462-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.



Nylon teeth myth is a belief of associating infant illnesses with bulges on infants’ alveolus that mark the positions of underlying developing teeth and that it is necessary to treat the condition mainly by traditional healers to prevent infant death. The traditional treatment often leads to serious complications that may lead to infant death. Although the government instituted educational campaigns against the myth in 1980s to 1990s, to date, repeated unpublished reports from different parts of the country indicate continued existence of the myth. Therefore, this study aimed to assess the current status of the nylon teeth myth in Tanzania.


The study population was obtained using the WHO Oral Health pathfinder methodology. A structured questionnaire inquired about socio-demographics as well as experiences with “nylon teeth” myth and its related practices. Odds ratios relating to knowledge and experience of the nylon teeth myth were estimated.


A total of 1359 respondents aged 17 to 80 years participated in the study. 614 (45%) have heard of nylon teeth myth, of whom 46.1% believed that nylon teeth is a reality, and 42.7% reported existence of the myth at the time of study. Being residents in regions where nylon teeth myth was known before 1990 (OR = 8.39 (6.50–10.83), p < 0.001) and/or hospital worker (OR = 2.97 (1.99–4.42), p < 0.001) were associated with having have heard of nylon teeth myth. Proportionately more residents in regions where nylon teeth myth was not known before 1990 (p < 0.001), the educated (p < 0.001) and hospital workers (p < 0.001) believed modern medicine, whereas, proportionately more residents in regions where nylon teeth was known before 1990 (p < 0.001), less educated (p < 0.001) and non-hospital workers (p < 0.001) believed traditional medicine to be the best treatment for symptoms related to nylon teeth myth respectively.


The “nylon teeth” myth still exists in Tanzania; a substantial proportion strongly believe in the myth and consider traditional medicine the best treatment of the myth related conditions.
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