Children's Teeth

edited September 2009 in Story Games
If there was a world where children's teeth were valuable and wicked antagonists didn't want to wait to collect them as they fell out naturally, but instead extracted all the teeth by force what would happen?

1) Assuming late 17th century technology and no magic to aid the "operation," would they even be possible to extract without killing a seven or eight year-old child?

2) Following the violation, would the permanent teeth grow in eventually?

It's disturbing, I know.

It's a dark and fallen world, but I may need to come up with some magical conceit that softens the realistic impacts and a narrative conceit that means even the most villainous would employ such magic of necessity to retain the value of the teeth. Even if entirely painless, it would still be a horribly cruel act as the child would be missing many of their teeth for years.


  • edited September 2009
    Hey, nemo, this is wicked-creepy. Good stuff!

    1 - you'd probably kill the child, yeah. Unless you give the kid morphine (anachronistic?) or opium or some other opiate, yes, the pain would probably kill or permanently warp a child that age (possibly anybody of any age, honestly).

    2 - the permanent teeth are hiding up inside the gums during childhood, waiting to descend once the baby teeth have fallen out. yes, absolutely, they'd still grow in. but there'd be a creepy interim, for sure.

    how valuable are they? if they're quite highly prized, then you probably wouldn't need to take all of a given child's teeth unless you're a truly fiendish person. also, some kind of pain-numbing agent (magical or otherwise) might be necessary to keep the ensuing struggle from chipping or breaking any of the teeth. especially if, you know, the kid gets free and runs, then falls and hits his teeth on a rock or something.

    ugh. good stuff. ^_^
  • so, so, so awesome.

    there are totally all sorts of pain-numbing agents out there to get people through sharp pains
    and prolonged pains. Alcohol, mind-altering drugs, poisons in small doses.

    i would totally believe that it could be done, having no credentials to back me up.

    except imaginary ones.

    most excellent villainous idea EVER.
  • Sure. I think pulling them all at once might cause some bleeding/trauma-from-pain issues (maybe fatal?), but as people have pointed out you could always drug the child with alchohol, etc. People do lose teeth all the time without dying, after all -- including children. Infection would probably be a pretty severe problem, as well -- I'd uneducatedly guess that it would be the main cause of death among victims. 17th century medicine is not big on antiseptic tools.
  • Do the teeth accumulate some kind of energy ("lost innocence accumulates in the teeth"??), almost like fruit ripening then falling from the tree?

    I'm just wondering if there a benefit for tooth harvesters to keep a children's teeth unharvested?

    Would there be different groups who have a fundamental dislike for one another based on their varied opinions about the best way teeth should be cultivated and claimed?

    Still, I love the idea...
  • edited September 2009

    Nobody is going to die from having all their healthy teeth pulled out*. However, according to an article in Circulation, 35% of children getting healthy teeth extracted today develop bacteremia. So dial that back to the late 17th century and do the math.

    *Maybe a few will
  • Mwahahahaaa
    Thought you might appreciate this picture :)

  • Posted By: nemomeme1) Assuming late 17th century technology and no magic to aid the "operation," would they even be possible to extract without killing a seven or eight year-old child?
    My grandmother, for her 21st birthday present from my granddad, had all her teeth knocked out and false teeth put in. This was in the mid 1920s. I'd be pretty confident you could extract teeth from children without killing them. However, as noted above infection is a problem, and another problem is that it's damn hard to eat without any teeth. Children need a lot of food.
  • Thanks for the help all.

    I can't take credit for this wickedness. I'm just a humble GM trying to noodle the fallout. Maybe the devil will pop by to take a bow.

    The teeth are pretty valuable in the right hands. I think the main thing preventing their early and wholesale harvest are moral principles, but there are probably also some magical benefits to letting them "ripen" naturally.

    There are definitely some interesting sociological implications. The orphans of the city have a form of security in being able to periodically sell their teeth for food and goods. But young children maybe aren't always the best advocates for their interests and there will be those who prey on their vulnerability.

    Thanks again.
  • They'd probably die from shock.
  • Matthew, history is more awesome than fantasy. People did sell their teeth, at least in the eighteenth century:

    “...The last of my master’s customers was a chimney sweep about twelve years of age. My master observing that he had no teeth in the fore-part of his jaws, asked by what accident he had lost them. “By no accident,” replied the sweep, “My mother sold them when I was young, to a dentist, who transplanted them into the head of an old lady of quality. My sister has had nothing but her naked jaw since she was nine years of age. It is but a poor comfort to her that her teeth are at Court, while she lives at home on slops, without any hope of a husband.” -- Helenus Scott, 1782

    Sir John Hunter championed live tooth transplant and it became something of a craze among the elite, despite the fact that it didn't work.
  • It sounds like they had some or all of their permanents sold out of them. And by their own mother!

    History is indeed awesome. And already replete with every woe we might conceive of.
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