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DIY Dentistry

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Not to worry, sir! This procedure is completely painless. I won't feel a thing.

At a few points in time for anyone with a tooth, they'll get a loose tooth or a toothache. Children will begin to outgrow their baby teeth. For adults, it could be factors such as age and how they take care of their teeth. This can lead to where The Tooth Hurts such as eating hard food or trying to bite things, among other things.

The practical way to end the ache is a visit to the dentist. But in situations such as being in a remote rural setting, where there's no dentist nearby, or they can't afford to get a checkup, or they're just afraid of dentists, or it's a post-apocalyptic setting, they resort on pulling the tooth out by themselves.

A common technique in removing it for kids is tying the tooth with a string to a door knob of an open door and then closing the door. Another method is using pliers (highly not recommended). Results may vary, but should it end up in failure, it's straight to the dentist anyway. If cute kids are involved, its Played for Laughs. If the characters are in a desolate Zombie Apocalypse wasteland (or a medieval village), a plier-tooth pulling will be a squick moment. This often occurs in a Loose Tooth Episode.

Compare with Self-Surgery.


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  • One anti-smoking Public Service Announcement features a young man yanking out one of his own teeth with pliers to point out how smoking can damage your gums and teeth.
  • One ad for Foster's Australian beer shows a tooth extraction done with a 4 by 4 pick-up truck. In the land Down Under, this is called dentistry.
  • In an Ernest P. Worrell commercial for Purity Milk, we see Ernest is apparently trying to help Vern pull out a bad tooth, which Ernest blames on Vern's lack of dental hygiene.
    Ernest: You should'a talked to yore ol' buddy, Ernest, first. If you'd only brush after ev'r meal, floss ev'r day, eat the right kind of foods, and of course, drank plenty of Purity milk, all this here wouldn't be necessary, would it, Vern? Ready? A-one... a-two... two-and-a-half-three! [Slams the door, Vern's head yanks forward] Ready to try it again, Vern?

    Anime & Manga 
  • Oruchuban Ebichu: When Ebichu gets a cavity from drinking too many syrup packets, OL's crappy boyfriend tries to fix it by himself with an icepick, earning him a punch from Maa.
  • Penguin Highway: Onee-san, despite being a dental assistant, offers a home remedy for Aoyama's loose tooth. Played for laughs in that every time she moves to pull the tooth, Aoyama follows close behind her defeating the whole purpose.

  • Dara Ó Briain has a comedy routine on the false balance in political news, likening it to a debate between "a bloke who's been a professor of dentistry for 12 years" being balanced against someone who "tries to remove his own teeth with string and a door!"
  • Vivian Stanshall (ex Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band) included a tale of impromptu dentistry in his comedy album Sir Henry at Rawlinson End. The gentleman in question ties his tooth to the inner door of a cage-type lift, so that when the lift ascends it will pull his tooth out. Unfortunately it doesn't work, so in frustration he yanks open the outer door and jumps down the shaft. "Few men would have had the intelligence to do that," Stanshall observes.

    Comic Books 
  • In one short example from Archie Comics, Archie invites Dilton over to help him by slamming the door. Dilton is actually a little insulted that Archie thinks he would do something so careless to a friend, so he leaves in a huff... slamming the door attached to Archie's tooth in the process.

    Comic Strips 
  • Parodied in a The Addams Family cartoon which had the daughter sitting on a chair with a string running from her mouth to a creepy-looking trapdoor in the floor.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 12 Monkeys: Cole believes the Mission Control in the future tracks time-travelers like him through tooth implants, so he removes his own teeth with a stolen knife. The crook who has to witness the grisly sight calls him "a fuckin' crazy dentist!" Cole later learns from another time traveler that pulling out his teeth was pointless, because the future scientists have other ways to track him, as well.
  • 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.
  • In Cast Away, Chuck has a toothache before he gets stuck on the island. With no way to get actual medical treatment, he's forced to knock the tooth out using an ice skate and a big rock.
  • Stu from The Hangover is missing a tooth when they wake up from the night they can't remember. At the end, it's revealed that he pulled it out himself because the others said he couldn't do it. For extra irony points, Stu is a dentist, for all the difference it makes when yanking out a tooth with pliers at a strip club while black-out drunk. No special effects were used to fake the missing tooth; Stu's actor simply removed the false tooth he usually wears (he never happened to grow an adult tooth in that spot).
  • Lampshaded in Houseguest, when Kevin (who is posing as a dentist) is called upon to actually perform a tooth extraction.
    Dr. Timmerman: Horizontal fracture with a periapical infection, and pulpal necrosis. He needs a root amputation to avoid periodontal trauma. I'd administer 7.2cc of xylocaine with epinephrine. But... What do you think?
    Kevin: Let me see that, Doctor. Yeah, OK. That's better than tyin' a string to a doorknob and slammin' it shut.
  • In Jackass 3D, Danger Ehren's crooked tooth is solved by the gang tying some floss to it, and tying the other half... to the tail of Bam Margera's Lamborghini Murcielago. The pull was so severe that according to Ehren, his face bones were fractured all the way up to nearly his eye socket and needed a bone transplant. It certainly explains why he screamed so much.
  • The Santa Clause 2. Having lost his magic, Scott needs a way to get back to the North Pole to stop Toy Santa's takeover. After the (not so) bright idea of sprouting wings, he and Curtis attempt to pull out one of his teeth to prompt a visit from Tooth Fairy, by not only trying the old doorknob trick, but the throwing a toaster down the stairs trick. Neither of them work.
  • In the Buster Keaton film The Scarecrow, Buster's buddy tries to pull Buster's sore tooth by tying it to a doorknob. He opens the door the wrong way, but Buster pulls it out himself when he slams the door in annoyance.
  • In Tooth Fairy 2, the sequel to The Tooth Fairy, a youngster removes her last baby tooth by tying string to her loose tooth and closing the door on the camera, and a popping sound is heard followed by her saying "Ow".
  • A post-credits scene in Wild Things (one of several that fill in the backstory) shows Suzie using a pair of pliers to extract one of her teeth. The tooth will be left behind so she can fake her own death.

  • Older Than Radio: Mark Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: when Aunt Polly discovers that Tom has a loose tooth, she has Tom's tooth tied to the bedpost with a silk string and uses a hot coal to scare him into jumping away, yanking the tooth out.
  • Exaggerated in the Robert Munsch book Andrew's Loose Tooth, a dentist ties a rope around Andrew's tooth, and Andrew asks him if he's going to tie it to the door so he can slam it. The dentist says he's actually going to tie it to his car. Andrew's tooth is so stuck, however, that the car just falls apart.
  • "Angel (Derin Edala)": When the protagonist starts growing needle-like teeth, they use pliers to pull them out. The new teeth aren't anchored in the jaw, so removing them isn't too painful — it's likened to tearing out thorns.
  • Anne of the Island: Mrs. Lynde pulls one of Davey's teeth by tying it to a doorknob. He sells the tooth to his friend for two cents (this being nineteenth-century Canada, he can't sell it to the Tooth Fairy because she hasn't been invented yet).
  • Bobby Brewster: Referenced in one book when they try to remove a particularly unbreakable hair. When they tie it to a doorknob and slam the door, the doorknob breaks instead.
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: In "Hard Luck", Greg mentions that he was too nervous to let anyone pull his loose tooth out when he was younger, so Frank tricked him into tying his tooth to a door and slamming it. He then brings up his younger cousin Georgia, who refuses to let anyone help her pull out her own loose tooth. Greg goes to look for some string so he can do the same trick to her, but he never gets a chance to do this because the Easter egg hunt starts just then.
  • Happens in Emil of Lönneberga. Lina has a tooth-ache, but is terrified of the thought of going to the blacksmith to have it pulled (the doctor lives rather far away, so he is the one handling such things for the villagers). Emil tries several antics, including trying to tie the tooth to the chimney and have Lina jump off the roof. In the end, Lina is so tired of the failures she charges off to the smith out of sheer spite.
  • The subject of a carnival game in "The Case of the Tooth Puller" from Encyclopedia Brown Shows the Way, which involved pulling loose teeth tied to a pool cue by using it to sink a ball.
  • In one of the Henry Huggins books, Henry pulls two loose teeth (that happen to be his canines) out by tying them to his dog Ribsy's toy and having Ribsy pull them out.
  • In Amoridere's Pulling Teeth,it's mentioned the subject had do this as a punishment, where she had to pull out five of her teeth, at some point. Later, remembering this, she has a The Dog Bites Back moment where she pulls out the teeth of the ones who mandated the punishment.
  • Sharpe: Harper gets a toothache at one point, and keeps using it as an excuse to try to mooch brandy off his surroundings. After Sharpe weaponizes Harper's toothache to storm a French fortress, Harper gets fed up, borrows a pair of pliers from Captain Fredrickson and yanks it out himself.
    • Related to the above, Captain Fredrickson carries a pair of pliers with him habitually, and examines the teeth of battlefield dead whenever there is time. He's collecting teeth to make himself a set of dentures to replace the teeth he had shot out.
  • Tinkers: Once a year, Howard brought supplies to Gilbert, a filthy hermit who lived in the woods. One year Gilbert comes out of the forest and shows Howard his last remaining tooth, which is badly infected. Howard has to yank it out in a messy procedure that involves a lot of blood and Gilbert passing out.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In The Americans Elizabeth ends up cracking a molar in a fight with the FBI, but manages to escape. With the FBI keeping tabs on all dentists in the area, Phillip is eventually forced to remove to remove the tooth in their basement with a pare of pliers and no painkillers. To add insult to injury, he only gets a piece of the tooth on the first try, so has to go again. The actors are dead silent during the horrific ordeal, with the camera focused almost completely on their horrified eyes.
  • Legion: Whenever Switch is bothered by a loose tooth, she simply yanks it out of her mouth with her fingers.
  • An episode of The Dumping Ground has Tyler not want to see the dentist for his loose tooth. When he can't get the tooth out by eating things like apples and carrots, Rick ties it to an empty plastic bottle that he launches like a rocket. It yanks out only part of the tooth, so Tyler has to go to the dentist anyway.
  • MADtv (1995) had a recurring sketch in the early days, spoofing infomercials, titled, "Incredible Findings". One of these was for "Home Dentist in a Box." It ends about how you'd expect someone removing their own tooth with pliers would end.
  • M*A*S*H has a variant in that the afflicted is a doctor himself: In the episode "The Tooth Shall Set You Free", Major Winchester has a nasty toothache that he tries to cover up (being deathly afraid of dentists) by self-medicating with codeine. Major Houlihan susses him out and takes away his medicine, at which point he goes to an herbal therapist in Uijongbu to get relief. In the end, Colonel Potter forces him to see the dentist that Hawkeye and BJ brought in to masquerade as a JAG to pull a Batman Gambit on a racist colonel. Potter threatens Winchester with "the doorknob" if Winchester doesn't comply with orders to submit to the dentist's care. He still bites him reflexively...
  • Men Behaving Badly: One episode has Tony tries to relieve a toothache by tying a string to a doorknob and hitting the string with a chair. His throwing of the chair is not successful at first but he is able to (very bloodily) remove the tooth in the end.
  • Mr. Bean: In "The Trouble With Mr. Bean", Bean accidentally renders his dentist unconscious and has to resort to filling his own cavity. He ends up putting paste on every tooth (due to misinterpreting his x-ray), resulting in him gluing his jaw shut. The dentist wakes up and Bean screams, thus ungluing his jaw.
  • The Scottish comedy show Naked Video has a sketch where an attempt at removing someone's tooth by tying it to a doorknob instead results in pulling their whole skull out.
  • Parks and Recreation: Certified Manly Man Ron Swanson nonchalantly yanks out a sore tooth with pliers in the middle of a meeting, prompting horrified screams from onlookers.
    Ron: [Aside Comment] The dentist pulled the tooth out yesterday, but it's always a good idea to demonstrate to your coworkers that you are capable of withstanding a tremendous amount of pain. Plus, it's always fun to see Tom faint. [Giggles]
  • Scrubs: Played for laughs. The Janitor leads most of the hospital's support staff in confronting Kelso about wanting dental insurance. When Kelso initially refuses, everyone simultaneously pulls out a tooth with their bare hands. Kelso is unimpressed. It's then revealed that the Janitor and the rest were faking with Chiclets, except one guy who actually did rip a tooth out of his mouth. The Janitor claims he can fix it.
  • In one round of the Panel Show Would I Lie to You?, comedian Bob Mortimer claims that he practices a surprisingly advanced version of this trope with the help of a steady supply of dental cement, an Indian musical instrument, a kitchen island, and a gaming chair. Much to everyone's amazement, it turns out to be a literal case of Truth in Television.
  • The X-Files: In episode "Unusual Suspects" the Lone Gunmen meet a woman who tells them about a government conspiracy. They have a hard time believing her until she pulls out a molar and shows them a tracking device that had been put there during a dental procedure.


  • Crash Test Dummies: The music video for "He Liked to Feel It" shows a boy trying to pull a bad tooth by tying it to ever more absurd things, from a taxi cab to a crane. It holds even when he's dangling from the string, until a man with pliers easily yanks it out.
  • On the album Together at the Bluebird Cafe, Townes Van Zandt relates the story (on the track "The Interfaith Dental Clinic") of an attempt at D.I.Y Dentistry that goes hysterically wrong.
  • Exaggerated, and possibly backfired, in the music video for Right Now by Korn, among plenty other ghastly scenes. After the main character slams the door, his entire skull comes out of his head as a result. The tooth does come out immediately afterwards as the song draws to a close.

    Video Games 
  • Death Road to Canada has the "Ma hooth" event, where a player character is said to have near-crippling tooth pain, and has to pull the tooth him/herself. There are three options tied to different skills: pull the tooth out by force with pliers with Strength, perform an actual dental surgery with Medical, or use Mechanical to rip the tooth off with a string and the car door. A low level on the selected skill can lead to results so messy, it kills the character.
  • The Discworld II adventure game requires you to pull a troll's tooth after it is damaged by a stone candy. You need to find a rope to remove it with the help of a nearby doorknob, but can keep the solid diamond tooth afterwards.

    Web Animation 
  • In the Happy Tree Friends episode, "Nuttin' but the Tooth", Nutty goes to a rather unexperienced dentist to get rid of his rotten tooth. Said dentist tries the old-fashioned method of tying one end of a string to the tooth and the other to a doorknob. This procedure ends with Nutty's whole lower jaw being ripped off, with the rotten one being one of the few teeth not to fall out.


    Web Videos 
  • Critical Role: Wildemount: In Episode 11, the Pretty Boy half-orc Fjord admits that he "used to do [his] own dental work", filing down his tusks out of Freakiness Shame. With some encouragement from his new friends, he decides to grow them out again.
  • Precious Plum: In "Some Vampire Teeth", Mama ties a string around Plum's loose tooth and attaches it to her car. She intends to drive forward to pull it out, but accidentally reverses into Plum.
    Mama: Her tooth did come out... And so'd a whole bunch of her other tooths too so mission too accomplished I guess.
  • In this video, where one kid pulled his tooth using a remote-controlled toy rocket.
  • A man in the Philippines had a giant lump in his jaw area due to pulling out his own aching teeth on numerous occasions, using rusted pliers.

    Western Animation 
  • Animaniacs: In a "Good Idea Bad Idea" segment, Mr. Skullhead demonstrates why serving as your own dentist is a bad idea, especially if it involves drilling.
  • Arthur: In the episode "Arthur's Tooth", when he finds out that he was the only one in his class who hadn't lost a tooth yet, Arthur tries to pull his loose tooth out by doing the doorknob method, eating crunchy food, and other methods. He then goes to the dentist when all methods fail, and the dentist assures him that all baby teeth fall out naturally and the age of falling baby teeth vary from person to person. At the end of the episode, Arthur's baby teeth finally fell out when Francine threw a soccer ball at his face.
  • In the Beavis and Butt-Head episode "Nosebleed", Butt-Head tries to stop Beavis's nose from bleeding, but ends up using various stock remedies for things like hiccups and choking. At one point, Butt-Head tries shutting a door with a string tied to it. We don't see where the other end of the string is tied to, but it results in Beavis screaming and blood splattering everywhere to the point of the entire screen gaining a red tint.
  • Detention: Eugenia P. Kisskilya tries the doorknob method, but it results in the doorknob breaking off from the door.
  • Dexter's Laboratory: In the Justice Friends episode "Pain in the Mouth", Krunk experiences a toothache. Valhallen suggests the simple solution of going to the dentist, but Major Glory opts to helping Krunk through other means, including getting villains to beat poor Krunk up. Eventually, Krunk decides to take Valhallen's advice, and the dentist eases his problem. Major Glory also gets forced to endure dental work.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy: In "Floss Your Ed," Ed's last baby tooth is about to fall out, and Eddy comes up with many ways to knock it out of the big lug's mouth, even teaming up with the other cul-de-sac kids. Eventually, a tooth does come out, but instead it is Eddy's. The three Eds later decide to call the Tooth Fairy by standing on a roof. However, they fall off, and Ed's and Eddy's loose teeth end up stuck on a pipe, which Ed then sucks through, gobbling up the teeth in the process.
  • In The Fairly OddParents! episode "Teeth for Two", as Timmy's loosening buck teeth is literally worth a diamond, Jorgen forcefully tried to pull them out with pliers as a dowry for his fiancee, the Tooth Fairy. When she finds out, she is not happy about it as it's her job to do that, and calls off the engagement. Later, as part of his plan to entrap the Tooth Fairy to reconcile with Jorgen, Timmy has his loose buck teeth pulled out by Dr. Bender though a doorknob and a string. He remarks that it didn't hurt, before the teeth bounces back at him and hits his eye.
    Timmy: And now to Phase Two.
  • Golan the Insatiable: In order to lure the Tooth Fairy back to the Beekler residence, Golan ties one of Dylan's teeth to a brick while they're on the top of the house - then pushes Dylan off while holding onto the brick. The tooth comes out.
  • In an episode of Little Bear, Little Bear has a loose tooth and Owl makes a complicated gizmo that is designed to pull Little Bear's tooth, which is attached to a rope, out. However, Little Bear ends up being pulled upwards with the rope.
  • In the Mr. Bean animated series episode "Toothache", after bearing the pain from a loose tooth after eating popcorn, Bean tries to pull out his aching tooth such as the classic doorknob method. When the knob fell off, he tried by pushing a drawer out of the window with string attached in tooth. When that didn't work, he tried by tying that string to a tree and wait for a passing vehicle to come by, and nada. The tooth only came out when he ate popcorn again.
  • In the Muppet Babies (1984) episode "Dental Hyjinks", Fozzie's tooth comes loose and Nanny decides to take him to the dentist. The Babies, who've never been to the dentist and are worried about what he might do to Fozzie, decide to pull the tooth out themselves by tying it to a (toy) train.
  • On The Ren & Stimpy Show, Powdered Toast Man used the doorknob method to pull out not a tooth, but the President's caught zipper.
  • The Simpsons: In "Fat Man and Little Boy", Bart tries to get his last baby tooth out by tying it to the fender of Otto's bus. He doesn't drive far enough through, because he crashes into Superintendent Chalmers' car a few feet away.
    Chalmers: SKINNER! Your bus driver just totaled my Camry!
    Skinner: Can I offer you the use of my Merkur?
    Chalmers: Filled with your Burger King cups and wrappers? No thank you.
  • South Park: The boys try to yank out Kenny's tooth by tying it to Timmy's motorized wheelchair and having him speed away. Kenny gets yanked out of his clothes, tooth intact.
  • In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Suds", Patrick tries to treat SpongeBob through several ineffective methods. One of which is where Patrick pulls SpongeBob's teeth out using the doorknob method to cure his suds and asked SpongeBob if it worked. SpongeBob awkwardly replied with a missing tooth that it didn't.
  • Taz-Mania: When Taz has a sore tooth, the Platypus Brothers try variations. First the doorknob, then tying it to their truck, and eventually a giant rock off thrown off a precipice. Nothing works until they shoot Taz with a cannon - and they get the wrong tooth!
  • Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales: Simply saying the word "dentist" to Chumley will make him leap on the chandelier and refuse to come down. An episode where he has a toothache results in this refusal, causing Tennessee to try some rather bizarre ways to extract the tooth before Mr. Whoopee convinces Chumley to see a dentist.


Video Example(s):


They're Just Coming Right Out

Mac decides, as part of his plan to fake his and Charlie's deaths, that he needs teeth for "dental records". However, Charlie's teeth come out unsettlingly easy...

How well does it match the trope?

5 (11 votes)

Example of:

Main / TheToothHurts

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