The tooth about love: A brief look at odontophilia

According to both Dr. Brenda Love’s Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices and Dr. Anil Aggrawal’s book Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices, odontophilia is a sexual paraphilia that refers to individuals who derive sexual pleasure and arousal involving teeth. The online Urban Dictionary goes a little further and describes it as a sexual fetish where individuals are sexually aroused by (i) licking a sexual partner’s teeth, (ii) leaving the imprint of teeth on their lover’s skin (or vice versa), (iii) pulling out a sexual partner’s teeth (or anything concerning dentistry). The online medical website Right Diagnosis defines odontophilia as referring to sexual urges, preferences or fantasies involving teeth. Given these definitions (particularly the one in the Urban Dictionary) they suggest an overlap with sexual biting fetishes (i.e., odaxelagnia, which I covered in a previous blog).

Brenda Love’s Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices spends quite a lot of time looking at odontophilia from a historical and literary perspective and recounts the work of the Marquis de Sade. It is said that de Sade based his writings on the sex life of others, and Dr. Love selected one of de Sade’s passages to exemplify odontophilia relating to a tooth extraction:

“The passion of Bonifice is also singular. He loves pulling out the teeth of his victims, while fucking them and being simultaneously sodomized. One who becomes the victim of these gentlemen is Fosine, fourteen years old, with a beautiful form, and a rich family. She promises the ideal combination of lust and profit. Both Boniface and Chrysostome wish to indulge themselves with her, and after pulling out her thirsty two beautiful teeth, she is subjected to the Superior, who immolates her in his own fashion”.

Dr. Love then goes on to say that it’s highly doubtful whether anyone today would practice odontophilia in the form described by de Sade. She then says:

“However, it is possible that an occasional tooth extraction scene occurred in 1797 when de Sade wrote his book. Nitrous oxide and ether were not used to extract teeth until 1840 and Novocain was not produced until the beginning of this century; therefore people during de Sade’s lifetime were accustomed to having their teeth removed without effective painkillers. The pulling of teeth may be arousing even with the advent of anesthesia as noted in Erich von Stroheim’s film Greed. Here the beautiful patient is kissed by her dentist as the blood still flows from her mouth”.

In researching this blog, I only located a couple of articles on the topic. The Everyday Entropy website features a first-hand account by someone who claims that “teeth get me hot” but after reading their story, it was quite clear that the person writing the article is far from being an odontophile. A better article on odontophilia was written by Billie Rosie who links the condition with vampirism. He noted:

“Perhaps the closest we get to identifying an obsession with teeth is through vampire stories and films. These equate teeth, especially long canine teeth with danger. The vampire will pierce your vein and sip your blood straight from the jugular – if the vampire takes too much you will die and according to some vampire lore, you will become a vampire, roaming the night in search of prey. Vampires are sexy. Anne Rice, I think, made them sexy. Following the predatory Lestat, came True Blood, Twilight, The Vampire Diaries – the list goes on”.

Rosie also made heavy reference to the short story Berenice written in 1835 by Edgar Allen Poe. The story’s narrator (Egaeus) grows up with his cousin (Berenice):

“[Egaeus] suffers from a type of obsessive disorder, a monomania that makes him fixate on objects. She, originally beautiful, suffers from some unspecified degenerative illness, with periods of catalepsy a particular symptom, which he refers to as a trance…One afternoon, Egaeus sees Berenice as he sits in the library. When she smiles, he focuses on her teeth. His obsession grips him, and for days he drifts in and out of awareness, constantly thinking about the teeth. He imagines himself holding the teeth and turning them over to examine them from all angles. At one point a servant tells him that Berenice has died and shall be buried. When he next becomes aware, with an inexplicable terror, he finds a lamp and a small box in front of him. Another servant enters, reporting that a grave has been violated, and a shrouded disfigured body found, still alive. Egaeus finds his clothes are covered in mud and blood, and opens the box to find it contains dental instruments and ‘thirty-two small, white and ivory-looking substances’ – Berenice’s teeth”.

I’ve only come across one academic research paper that makes any mention of odontophilia. In a previous blog on fetishism, I wrote at length about a study led by Dr G. Scorolli (University of Bologna, Italy) on the relative prevalence of different fetishes using online fetish forum data. It was estimated (very conservatively in the authors’ opinion), that their sample size comprised at least 5000 fetishists (but was likely to be considerably more). Their results showed that there were 1697 fetishists (2% of all fetishists) with a sexual interest in odontophilia on the websites they studied (although their definition of odontophilia not only included teeth but also mouth and lips so the number of ‘true’ odontophiles was likely to be a lot lower).

According to the Right Diagnosis website, treatment is generally not sought for odontophilia unless it becomes problematic for the individual and they feel compelled to address the condition. As I have noted in my previous blogs, the majority of sexual fetishists and paraphiliacs simply learn to accept their condition and manage to achieve sexual gratification in an appropriate manner with no problem for the individual or their sexual partners.

Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK

Further reading

Aggrawal A. (2009). Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices. Boca Raton: CRC Press.

Everyday Entropy (2009). Odontophilia. July 12. Located at:

Love, B. (2001). Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices. London: Greenwich Editions.

Rosie, B. (2012). Odontophilia: A fetish for teeth. November 30. Located at:

Scorolli, C., Ghirlanda, S., Enquist, M., Zattoni, S. & Jannini, E.A. (2007). Relative prevalence of different fetishes. International Journal of Impotence Research, 19, 432-437.

About drmarkgriffiths

Professor MARK GRIFFITHS, BSc, PhD, CPsychol, PGDipHE, FBPsS, FRSA, AcSS. Dr. Mark Griffiths is a Chartered Psychologist and Professor of Behavioural Addiction at the Nottingham Trent University, and Director of the International Gaming Research Unit. He is internationally known for his work into gambling and gaming addictions and has won many awards including the American 1994 John Rosecrance Research Prize for “outstanding scholarly contributions to the field of gambling research”, the 1998 European CELEJ Prize for best paper on gambling, the 2003 Canadian International Excellence Award for “outstanding contributions to the prevention of problem gambling and the practice of responsible gambling” and a North American 2006 Lifetime Achievement Award For Contributions To The Field Of Youth Gambling “in recognition of his dedication, leadership, and pioneering contributions to the field of youth gambling”. His most recent award is the 2013 Lifetime Research Award from the US National Council on Problem Gambling. He has published over 600 research papers, four books, over 130 book chapters, and over 1000 other articles. He has served on numerous national and international committees (e.g. BPS Council, BPS Social Psychology Section, Society for the Study of Gambling, Gamblers Anonymous General Services Board, National Council on Gambling etc.) and is a former National Chair of Gamcare. He also does a lot of freelance journalism and has appeared on over 2000 radio and television programmes since 1988. In 2004 he was awarded the Joseph Lister Prize for Social Sciences by the British Association for the Advancement of Science for being one of the UK’s “outstanding scientific communicators”. His awards also include the 2006 Excellence in the Teaching of Psychology Award by the British Psychological Society and the British Psychological Society Fellowship Award for “exceptional contributions to psychology”.

Posted on May 16, 2013, in Case Studies, Compulsion, Obsession, Paraphilia, Psychology, Sex, Sex addiction and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Hi doctor, my name is Ernesto and I want to thank you for this post. I am an odontophilic ! for years I know that this fetish I have has some psicological reasons, name , and definetly think not to be the only one.
    I am part of a fetish community on the web I found 5 years ago and for me was very important this because I confirm I am not the only one into this.
    Thank you for the investigation you made and the resume of this.
    Regards, E. Betancourt

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: