Tooth-filing Ceremony - The Balinese, an ethnic group native to the Indonesian island of Bali

The tooth-filing ceremony is of great importance in the Balinese culture and is a significant in the passage from puberty to adulthood. This ritual is for both males and females and must be completed before marriage; it is sometimes incorporated into the marriage ceremony.

The tooth-filing process includes the filing down of the canine teeth (the pointy teeth) until they are level with the other teeth around them. The reason for this is that it is a strong belief that these teeth are like animals' teeth. The filing process is related to the smoothing out of the animal aspects in a human's personality.

The filing is performed by a 'dentist' called a sangging. Before the filing, offerings are made to the gods. The person will then lie down on a platform that has been made especially for this occasion. Once lying down, the person's family will form a ring around them to offer support. A small piece of sugarcane is often placed in the corners of the mouth to keep the jaw open during the process. Once in place, the two top canine teeth are filed first, then the bottom ones. The process takes approximately five to ten minutes.

Once a daughter has had her teeth filed she is no longer considered the responsibility of her father. A son, on the other hand, is different. A son's father is responsible for his wedding and must finance and conduct the ceremony. It is often for these reasons that the tooth-filing ceremony occurs alongside a marriage ceremony.

If the teeth are not filed when a person dies, then it will occur prior to cremation, as the Balinese people believe that the gods may mistake a human for a savage animal if their teeth are not filed.

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