Haunted by Dracula’s Teeth Syndrome

This case report from a 2001 study describes a patient with persistent headaches who experienced ‘phantom teeth’ – the sensation of non-existent vampire-like teeth in her mouth.

Phantoms‘ are often the result of having a limb or other appendage removed and can affect almost any part of the body (indeed, phantom penises have been reported in the medical literature).

In this case phantom teeth seem to have occurred after surgical removal of the gums, although this case is particularly interesting because the phantoms are for teeth that were never there in the first place.

Phantoms are thought to arise when the brain’s map of the sensory areas becomes distorted during re-organisation, after the actual sensations from the removed appendage stop.

A 52-year-old woman was referred to a neurologist because of right facial pain radiating from the malar region diagonally to the right upper lip area. She had pain for several months following upper and lower surgical resection of hypertrophic gums. The pain was severe, constant, and interfered with her sleep. She had no gustatory sweating or flushing of her face or neck. She developed symptoms of depression because of the chronic pain…

She reported a constant sensation of having two long extra upper canine teeth growing in front of her normal canines that felt like they were pressing on her tongue. The sensation was experienced as someone with vampire-like long upper canines (“Dracula’s teeth”)…

There was no family history of gum hyperplasia or supernumerary teeth. She complained of poor taste, forgetfulness, sleep fragmentation, and high-pitched ringing noises in her ears of long-standing. She had no burning of her tongue.

Link to abstract of scientific study.

3 Comments

  1. APPsych1
    Posted February 1, 2008 at 4:10 am | Permalink

    That was an interesting read. I thought that phantoms were for limbs that could actually feel sensations, and teeth are not included in that category. It is fascinating, the types of tricks that the mind can play on us. I’m curious to know (the article and case study didn’t mention) if any progress was made on determining the cause of this curiosity.

  2. APPsych1
    Posted February 1, 2008 at 4:11 am | Permalink

    That was an interesting read. I thought that phantoms were for limbs that could actually feel sensations, and teeth are not included in that category. It is fascinating, the types of tricks that the mind can play on us. I’m curious to know (the article and case study didn’t mention) if any progress was made on determining the cause of this curiosity.

  3. doubles
    Posted February 5, 2008 at 12:12 am | Permalink

    It would be better to know more statistics on the people who have experienced this sensation on the part of their body. It could just be that the person’s mind has lost their vestibular sense and tries to make up for the feeling. And if this only occures in few patients then it could quite possibly be that the vestibular sense has become disoriented and needs time to get used to the change.


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