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The Tooth Hurts

"We are the ones you should be fearing, come in the night and take your teeth away. Now sew up your mouth and go to sleep, 'cause we'll be there soon to break your heart and spite your face."
The Ones by Aesthetic Perfection

Just like with eyes, fingers, throats, toes and genitals, teeth are an extremely sensitive part of us that we can't bear to see get damaged, whether our own or other people's. Just like with fingers, we have so many of them, giving us so many ways to feel the pain (even worse if a Depraved Dentist is involved). However, someone may pull a tooth for a good reason, i.e., it gives them so much pain.

Keep in mind that this is about teeth getting hurt or removed in ways other than getting knocked out in a fight. There already exists a separate trope for that.


  • The Cliche Family (a parody ad made as an in-house demonstration) shows a little boy brushing his teeth all day, day after day, until they're almost completely worn away.
  • It's telling that the slogan for 1-800-DENTIST is "Seriously, it's time."
  • Skittles has a rather horrifying commercial featuring a boy with Skittles for teeth, and a girl who eats them out of his face under the guise of kissing him.

  • One episode of Kirby of the Stars centers around King Dedede and Bun/Tuff getting cavities due to not properly brushing their teeth, and both of them are too scared to go to the local doctor. Dedede eventually orders a properly-skilled dentist Demon Beast to fix his tooth for him, though hearing that it doesn't use anesthetic scares him off again.
    • This was, incidentally, not dubbed into English for quite some time, most likely because many children are scared of the dentist to begin with...
  • Speed Grapher's Depraved Dentist is shown working on one of his patients. The dentist actually has a tooth fetish, working on teeth is erotic for him. And then he starts drilling her teeth. All of them. And he keeps on drilling. He keeps on going until the patient is dead and the entire room is caked in blood.

  • Vivian Stanshall plays with this trope in one of his comic monologues about the bizarre English eccentrics of Rawlinson End. Arbuthnot Rawlinson tries to cure a toothache by tying a string to the affected tooth and the other end to the inner door of an old-fashioned lift. Unfortunately when the lift ascends it doesn't pull the tooth out, so the frustrated Arbuthnot yanks open the outer door and jumps down the shaft. "Few men," Stanshall informs us, "would have had the intelligence to do that."

Comic Books
  • In Detective Comics #832, a villain named "Shark" pulls out his own teeth with pliers to plant them as fake evidence of his supposed death by sharks. He mentions that it was very painful, but he's got lots of teeth (three rows!).
  • Superman once fought the villain Barrage, who uses Powered Armor that lets him take Superman on. Once Supes notices Barrage's face is unprotected, he shoots him in the teeth with his heat vision, melting his fillings and letting Supes get close enough to punch him out.
  • In Ultimate Spider-Man, Doctor Octopus pulls out one of Peter's teeth with his tentacle over four panels.
  • There's a Marvel Knights special by Garth Ennis where The Punisher ambushes a mobster at the dentist's office and proceeds to pull out his teeth one by one for information. The whole story is drawn from the perspective inside the mobster's mouth.

Fan Fic

  • In Cast Away, Chuck is having a problem with his tooth in the beginning of the film, which gets worse once he becomes stranded on an island. Eventually, he knocks it out with an ice skate found in one of the packages washed ashore, but passes out from the immense pain.
  • I Spit on Your Grave also features a torture scene using this.
  • In Moon, Sam starts losing his teeth (and vomiting blood) as his short-lived clone body breaks down.
  • In The Pink Panther Strikes Again, the Big Bad (former Chief Inspector Dreyfus) gets a bad toothache and sends for a dentist. Clouseau pretends to be the dentist and performs dental malpractice on Dreyfus.
    Dreyfus: He has pulled the wrong tooth! There's only one man who would pull the wrong tooth. It's Clouseau! Kill him! Kill him!
  • There was a scene in Finding Nemo where the dentist was trying to remove the prime minister's tooth. When Nigel the pelican runs into the window, the noise startles the dentist so much that he forcefully pulls out the bad tooth, putting the prime minister in a lot of pain.
  • Also used in a The Three Stooges short when Curly gets a toothache.
    • A number of Stooge shorts involve teeth being pulled or smashed out, often painfully. It's often the wrong tooth that is yanked, or even the wrong person getting yanked.
  • In Saw VII, a character learns that the combination to get through a door has been etched on two of his teeth. He must extract them with a pair of locking pliers in order to proceed.
    • In an early draft of Saw III, some of the chains holding Troy in place for his trap were hooked through his teeth, requiring him to pull them out if he wanted to free himself. One of the movie's posters displayed three uprooted teeth dangling from wires as the Roman number III.
  • In Oldboy, the protagonist tortures one of his tormentors by performing dental surgery with a claw hammer. Another antagonist does the same to intimidate him, but only gets one tooth.
  • In X-Men: First Class, Erik Lehnsherr uses his powers of magnetism to forcibly extract a Nazi sympathist Swiss banker's metal fillings as an interrogation method.
  • The Laurel and Hardy silent Leave 'Em Laughing involves Stanley getting a toothache.
  • In Chronicle, Andrew, slipping into despair-induced madness, uses his telekinetic powers to yank three teeth out of a bully's mouth. For added horror, he later shows off the teeth to his camera, absent-mindedly noting that he was able to get the first one out cleanly, but ended up actually breaking the other two.
  • In Marathon Man, Szell drills into one of Levy's teeth every time he gets an answer he doesn't like.
  • In District 9, Wikus loses two molars about 40 hours after being exposed to the alien fluid that turns him into a prawn. One he loses when chewing food, the other he pulls out himself.
  • One of the many unsettling sex scenes in A Serbian Film involves a woman who has her teeth removed.
  • In Wild Things, Suzie Toller yanks out one of her own teeth with a pair of pliers in order to fake her death. A scene of her doing this is one of the scenes shown over the closing credits (which fill in the details not shown in the movie).
  • This happens a lot in the horror film The Dentist, which is to be expected for a horror flick about a Depraved Dentist in general.
  • In Blade, Deacon Frost rips a vampire elder's fangs out of his mouth with pliers before executing him.
  • Wade Whitehouse, the main character from the 1997 film Affliction, suffers from a bad toothache throughout the story. He eventually reaches the point where he pulls out the tooth with pliers.
  • World War Z. A CIA agent reveals that North Korea had a Godzilla Threshold method of stopping the Zombie Apocalypse. The entire population had their teeth removed. Can't bite someone with no teeth, right?
  • In The Hangover, Stu wakes up having the titular condition pounding hard and realizes he's missing a tooth but cannot remember how he lost it. Doubles as a Casting Gag since Ed Helms, Stu's actor, is actually missing the same tooth in real life but covers the hole with an implant.

  • In her book My Most Secret Desire, Julie Doucet recounts a dream in which her teeth were falling out.
  • In Dune, one character forcibly removes a tooth from another character and installs a fake tooth. It's not done for torture purposes, but it's obviously excruciating.
  • In The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Tom has a toothache and his Aunt Polly decides the tooth has to come out. She ties one end of a string to the tooth and the other end to a bedpost, then frightens Tom with a hot coal. When Tom jerks away, the string yanks out the tooth.
  • Stanislaw Lem's short story "Highest Possible Level of Development" in The Cyberiad had a drug, Altruzine, that caused tele-empathy. A man with a toothache has the painful tooth ripped out by nearby people who don't want to feel his pain.
  • This plays a part in the Dick King-Smith children's book The Stray, since the main character has a fear of dentists but starts developing tooth pains partway through the book.
  • One story by Wilhelm Busch uses this trope. Hilarity Ensues (well, for the reader). You can read it online here (in German).
  • Edgar Allan Poe's short story "Berenice" is about a young man with a tendency to go into trance states where he can't remember his actions afterward and a growing obsession with the teeth of his cousin/fiancée Berenice. Eventually he wakes up from one such state, surrounded by bloody dental implements and holding a box full of Berenice's teeth.
  • In 1984, O'Brien rips out one of Winston's teeth with his hand, to show him that he's "rotting away" and "falling to pieces".
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: Pia's teeth are bashed in by Gregor Clegane for speaking out of turn, ruining her pretty face. Even more deliberately, Theon's teeth are destroyed to the point where chewing is nigh impossible because his tormentor didn't like his grin.
  • In Les Misérables, Fantine rips out her own teeth with pliers and sells them to raise money the Thénardiers demanded for Cosette.
  • In The Courtship of Princess Leia, Han has been captured by the Nightsister Gethzerion, who starts torturing him by using the Force the break every bone in his body. Desperately trying to stall for time for a rescue to arrive, he asks if she intends to do that to his teeth. Gethzerion likes the idea and promptly causes two of his molars to explode.
    • Shortly after the aforementioned rescue, Leia gives Han a kiss because she's happy he's still alive. Given the teeth situation, Han's not as happy about this as he would normally be.
  • In the Witcher Saga, Bonhart finally breaks Ciri by showing her a full collection of tools for dentistry and threatening to use them all on her.
  • In Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code, Artemis managed to escape an ambush with a well-placed sonic grenade, which had the side effect of blowing out the teeth of everyone who had their mouths closed when the grenade went off. The next time we see the big bad, he is griping about the increase to his company's dental insurance premiums. His henchman, one of the now-toothless, comes back with a specially-made set of dentures that basicaly turn him into Jaws (the Bond guy, not the fish).
  • In The First Law, Glokta had many of his teeth pulled out by torturers, and often pulls teeth himself, or threatens to.
  • Miranda, in Dr Franklins Island, loses all of her teeth transforming into a bird. The roots are reabsorbed and they just come out without blood - the painful aspects of her transformation don't involve this. She tries to seem cool about it to avoid upsetting her friend.

Live-Action TV
  • On Malcolm in the Middle, Hal hurts his tooth while eating some snacks during a poker game, and one of his friends who works as a dentist treats it. However, after getting a huge bill (when he assumed it would be free because the friend said something along the lines of, "I'll take care of it"), Hal eventually rips out his tooth as protest, but passes out. He spends the rest of the episode swallowing his food whole.
  • One of the methods of the Sadistic Dentist of Asian Persuasion from Alias.
  • One of the regular sketches on Turkey TV was "Dental Nightmares", featuring a Depraved Dentist willing to pull all of a patient's teeth out in response to the smallest dental problem. Some of these he even causes.
  • In the Supernatural episode "Malleus Maleficarum", a witch uses magic to make a woman's teeth fall out. An episode earlier, Dean narrowly escaped having a tooth pulled out as part of a pagan ritual.
  • In Chuck, as part of a If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten proof of Chuck being a cold-blooded torturer, he is forced to torture Casey. He extracts a tooth to extract information. As it turns out, Casey needed that tooth pulled anyway and thanked Chuck for saving him a trip to the dentist.
  • Fred Sanford once went to great pains to avoid the dentist when troubled with a bad tooth, even specifically requesting a black dentist to treat it.
  • Al Bundy's teeth are so disgusting and yellowed even a dentist is appalled at the look of them.
  • In Sabrina the Teenage Witch, the title character was confronted with a security guard while going to a rock-concert with a few of her friends, when the guard couldn't let them in, Sabrina casts a spell which causes his teeth to fall out, the guard notices it and runs off, he is never mentioned again, which also makes him a Victimized Bystander.
  • Happened to Adam Carter of Spooks during a mission in the former Yugoslavia before the start of the series. He was captured by a Serbian paramilitary and tortured with a dental drill.
  • Justified: In "Long in the Tooth", a former mob accountant turned dentist snaps when confronted by a rude client and yanks out two of his teeth without anesthetic.
  • In The Adventures of Superboy, Superboy is attacked by a vampire (since Kryptonians are vulnerable to magic, vampires can harm him). When the vampire tries to bite his neck, he holds up a metal pipe and the vampire bites it instead, screaming in agony.
  • A M*A*S*H episode has Charles Winchester suffering from this.

  • The subject of "The Interfaith Dental Clinic" story Townes van Zandt tells on the album Together at the Bluebird Cafe.
  • The Ones by Aesthetic Perfection is about a man haunted by teeth-stealing monsters.

Music Videos
  • The video of Green Day's "Geek Stink Breath" has scenes of a very gruesome dental surgery.

  • The Play-Doh Dr. Drill and Fill playset lets the kids fill, drill or extract their plastic patient's teeth.

Video Games
  • Grand Theft Auto V: One mission has Trevor engaged in Cold-Blooded Torture of a suspected terrorist, one of the possible implements the player can choose is a set of pliers. The tooth gets ripped out by waggling the analog stick.
  • Peacock's backstory in Skullgirls involves, among other gruesome things, her having all her teeth pulled by slave-traders. She has a replacement set of chompers in the form of a mini-bear trap now, though.

Web Comics
  • Homestuck has this happen a few times. One of the more notable examples is where Sollux get most of his fangs knocked out when he and Karkat fall down some stairs (while Sollux is unconscious and Karkat is dragging him to flee from a murderous juggalo). Surprisingly, Sollux revels in the change when he wakes up, because it means he doesn't have to lisp anymore.

Web Video

Western Animation
  • This plays a part in a Rugrats episode, where Angelica is trying to pull out one of Chuckie's teeth for tooth fairy money.
  • In the Phineas and Ferb episode "Bubble Boys", during Dr. Doofenshmirtz's attempt at country-western singing:
    Audience Member: This stinks so bad I wanna break somethin'!
    (He grinds his teeth together and they shatter with the sound of glass breaking.)
    Audience Member: ... Yeah, that really wasn't worth it.
  • In Dexter's Laboratory, one episode of the Justice Friends has them trying to avoid the dentist from fear of this. It's subverted: Krunk, the Hulk Captain Ersatz, only got a tortilla chip in his tooth — which just needed a simple, painless extraction — compared to all the idiotic stuff Major Glory tries to do to his tooth. The Aesop: Go to the dentist, or it'll hurt MORE (which is actually a pretty good Aesop).
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In "The Cutie Pox", Apple Bloom trips over a root and chips a tooth. Fortunately, Zecora has the skill to prepare a dentistry potion.
    • In Mare in the Moon, Nightmare Moon did not have fangs. In an animatic clip showing a flashback to when she first became Nightmare Moon, she does.
  • In Tennessee Tuxedo And His Tales, Chumley got rather destructive in his pain-induced rage. Yet even after encouragement from the ever-informative Mr. Whoopie, he was hardly willing to see a dentist.
  • In Muppet Babies, Fozzie's tooth pain got him sent to the dentist. The rest of the gang shared his fear and felt for him.
  • Older than Television example: In Bosko The Talk Ink Kid Bosko's dog Bruno ate too many brownies. The visual metaphor didn't help matters.
  • An extra gruesome episode of The Ren & Stimpy Show showed why it pays to brush teeth.
  • Many MGM and Warner Bros. cartoons show a hungry predator unwittingly biting down on something hard they think is food or prey and smashing out all their teeth.
  • In The Smurfs episode "The Moor's Baby", one of Lord Balthazar's goons has a tooth that's hurting.
  • The Gravity Falls episode "Dreamscaperers" has Bill Cipher, the pyramid guy summoned by Gideon, tear out the teeth of a deer and hand them to him. He later puts them back. Thankfully, the deer didn't feel a thing since he froze time.
  • The Dan Vs. episode "Dan Vs. The Telemarketer" has Dan being tormented by the man who stole his identity in "Dan Vs. Dan" (a friendlier, Bizarro version of Dan), eventually leading to him transmitting messages in his head through a special dental filling. Elise eventually has to yank it out, commenting that Dan's teeth are in such bad shape that they're like eggshells.
  • On Bob's Burgers, Louise is discovered to have a cavity that causes her tremendous pain, forcing her to run away to her aunt Gail's house due to her crippling fear of the dentist.
  • King Pig gets a rotten tooth in the Angry Birds Toons episode "Tooth Royal", forcing the Minion Pigs to try all the means of yanking it out. When those don't work, the force him to get beat up by the Birds, who do indeed knock it out... along with the rest of his teeth.

Real Life
  • Pulling a tooth before it's completely loose hurts, as hundreds of screaming children attest.
    • Nowadays, injecting the anesthetic is the hurty part. Then half your jaw feels "jammed" and you almost don't feel the teeth being pulled. However, you are screwed if it's wisdom teeth being pulled- if they're lodged in there pretty good,and especially if they're not oriented straight up-and-down, it can hurt even if your jaw is pumped full of anesthetic.
      • This is the main reason many people opt to be put under during the actual surgery. However, even afterwards there is pain in the area (usually, pain pills are prescribed), sometimes accompanied by bruised cheeks, sores around the corners of the mouth, or a particularly nasty condition called dry-socket.
      • There is some good news, though - apparently, a new type of needle that makes the injection less painful is being developed.
  • Tooth cavities, or worse, tooth abscesses.
  • Chipping a tooth, if you lose enough it'll expose the nerve causing all kinds of pain.
  • Considerably less severe than the other cases presented, but newly-applied braces can leave one with the entire mouth feeling sore until the teeth get used to the unrelenting tension.
    • Not to mention bleeding and possible inability to eat solid food till the soreness goes away.
    • And in many cases, the soreness will come back every time you get the braces tightened, until you've had them on long enough and had them adjusted enough times that your mouth becomes used to the routine.
    • There's also the problem with cuts or sores in your mouth, as braces can be unexpectedly sharp. You can get a type of wax to put on the sharp ends and tracks until they smooth off.
  • Sudden heat or cold can be painful, especially if your teeth are more sensitive.
  • And it only gets worse in the history books! Imagine being the last guy to get a tooth pulled before the invention of Novacain.
  • Pulling the pin from a grenade with your teeth is never a good idea in real life. It's a great way to break or even yank a tooth out.
  • A famous hoax that made it into the news recently consisted of a jilted dentist pulling all her ex-boyfriend's teeth as revenge.
  • A German dentist, in an effort to save time, gave his patient fourteen root canals in one appointment. She later sued because of the excruciating pain she suffered afterward, since he used cognac rather than Novocain or laughing gas.
  • Dying nerves. Imagine all the pain of an agitated tooth and then multiply it by triple, and then having it last all day until you manage to get to a dentist so it gets cleaned out... or down enough Advil to kill a horse.
  • Actually averted now with root canals: modern medicine has made it so it's more tedious than anything else. Of course, your jaw probably will be sore after holding it open for so long however.

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