Antonio Manaligod/Dose

Fear the p*ssy that bites back.

Have you ever seen the movie “Teeth?” The 2007 black comedy horror film centers around a girl who discovers that her genitals contain teeth; she puts her sexual superpower to good use, enacting revenge on the men who have wronged her by using her vagina to bite off their penises.

I haven’t seen the film, but I hear it’s not for the faint of heart.

As far-fetched as the plot sounds, it turns out that in many cultures, people really did believe that vaginas contained teeth. The condition is known as vagina dentata — Latin for “toothed vagina.” And societies around the world had different interpretations for how the condition manifested.

In some cultures, overcoming vagina dentata symbolized powerful masculinity. In the Chaco region of Paraguay, legend has it that men were unable to consummate their marriages until a local hero broke the teeth of the woman’s vagina.

Other societies wielded the folklore as a warning. 19th century Europeans suffered from castration anxiety and locals used the myth to persuade men not to rape or engage in sex with strange women. Instead, men were encouraged to tame their female partners by removing their vaginal molars, thus transforming the women into marriage material.

Painting of Hine-nui-te-Po guarding the underworld. | Danny Ngene Ngene

A myth from New Zealand’s indigenous Maori people links vagina dentata to mortality. Local legend suggests that the demigod Maui tried to outwit the goddess of death, Hine-nui-te-Po, by reversing the birth process. His plan was to climb through Hine-nui-te-Po’s body, starting at her vaginal opening and exiting through her mouth, ultimately destroying her. Unbeknownst to Maui, the goddess’ vagina was equipped with sharp teeth.

Maui took his bird companions with him on his journey to defeat Hine-nui-te-Po. They found the goddess asleep with her legs open. As Maui entered the vaginal canal, one of the birds laughed, causing Hine-nui-te-Po to stir. She responded by eating Maui with her vaginal teeth. The legend credits this encounter as the first death in history and posits that if Maui had completed his journey through Hine-nui-te-Po’s body, death would not exist today.

Cultural myths aside, there is a real-life condition that would make it possible for a woman’s sexual organs to grow teeth. Dermoid cysts are benign tumors that are capable of developing in any part of the body. This includes the brain, bladder, neck and testes (yes, men can get this too).

Fully developed dermoid cyst with teeth and hair (left), X-ray of dermoid cyst in the pelvic cavity (right). | UCL Pathology Collection

Typically, dermoid cysts form when skin becomes trapped during fetal development. The cysts include different features depending on the person and their location on the body — some cysts contain fingers, eyes, salivary glands, hair and, of course, teeth.

Most dermoid cysts are benign, but harmful ones may require medical intervention. If the cyst becomes inflamed, painful or begins to change color, doctors may recommend surgical removal.

Most unfortunately, dermoid cysts will not allow you to avenge yourself upon your enemies by castrating them. Sorry to all the “Teeth” fans out there, but that’s just movie magic.