Traditional beliefs in many Ugandan communities attribute diarrhoea, fever, and vomiting in children to the developing dentition with the belief that if the offending teeth or “ebinyo” are not removed, the child will die.

Facts on ebinyo

  • The practice of extraction of ebinyo/false teeth is based on the belief that rubbing of herbs on the gum (in the
    region of the canine), or the removal of the primary and/ or permanent canine tooth buds will lead to the relief of childhood fevers and diarrhoea
  • The procedure is done as early as 1 month and up to 3 years of age. Most studies report a peak age of 4-18 months
  • Whereas infant illnesses may be attributed to the teething period, they are in fact a result of the poor health
    conditions in which these children are raised
  • The term ebinyo encompasses both the child’s ailment, as well as the treatment offered by traditional healers

Consequences of traditional treatment of ebinyo

  • The procedure is aimed at removal of the primary canine, but damage to the surrounding tissues occurs
  • The incisions in the mouth and the herbs can lead to oral sepsis, bacteraemia, anaemia, and death
  • If initial cause of diarrhoea, fever, and vomiting is not addressed, dehydration and death can occur
  • Depending on the extent of damage, malocclusion can result because the permanent canine maybe missing,
    impacted, or malformed


  • Counsel the parent/caretaker
  • Treat the condition causing the symptoms


  • Oral health education
  • Sensitise community on dangers of ”ebinyo” beliefs
  • Appropriate treatment of childhood illnesses
  • Provision of proper nutrition to children