I'd also heard the idea that vampires were largely inspired by rabies - they bite people to spread their condition, are associated with bats and sometimes wolves, and can't stand sunlight or cross water.
For more great speculation and argument about the biopathological origins of Vampirism, I highly suggest checking out Alan Dundes' The Vampire: A Casebook.
Check out fig. 6 and tell me this is a coincidence:
The links don't explain why exactly the disease would work away at tooth enamel in specific ways. It would be one thing if the gums simply receded excessively (as in porphyria, which seems to be cited much more often in relation to vampirism), or if it caused grinding, but what's the deal with this? Super-acidic saliva?
Syphilis was the meth of its day.
This is from inherited syphilis -- when the fetus gets it from the mother... The teeth grow that way.
Affections of the Mucous Membranes.—The inflammation of the nasal mucous membrane that causes snuffles has already been referred to. There may be mucous patches in the mouth, or a stomatitis which is of importance, because it results in interference with the development of the permanent teeth. The mucous membrane of the larynx may be the seat of mucous patches or of catarrh, and as a result the child's cry is hoarse.
A connection with vampire tales is also problematic because the whole vampire thing is pretty damned old in Europe. And it isn't well established whether syphilis existed in Europe before Columbus made his trips:
I love the Mutter!
Elements of those tales go back a long way, but the "vampire" mythology as most of us think of it today (including the now-traditional fangs) was mostly a product of the 19th century.
Well much of the frame work for the 19th century (and modern) concept of the vampire is drawn directly from balkan/gypsy legends. Which if I recall correctly tended to be related to or indistinguishable from early "werewolf" type tales, and are usually considered to related to similar blood drinking or flesh eating animals/creatures, and canabalistic human dead traditions from elsewhere in Europe. All of these tend to involve depictions of animalistic or otherwise fucked up teeth if not the perfectly formed "fangs" we tend to see to day. I'm reasonably sure those are even more modern than the 19th century. The big Victorian vampire fiction seems vague on it, and just look at Nosferatu. So I'd ague that one of those elements that goes back a long way, longer than its clear syphilis has been a problem in Europe (especially Eastern), is animal like or jagged teeth.
Well, I for one can't make any judgement until I see their genitals.
OH GOD NO! WHY DID YOU SHOW ME THEIR GENITALS?!! (sound of vomiting)
What's that, Necrobob Nomiconpants?
Well, Darla (of Buffy and Angel fame) DID have syphilis....
It's from an episode where Spongebob visits his friend Sandy the Squirrel in her underwater dome. Supposedly his appearance was due to dehydration, but now I'm thinking he caught something during his visit. (She wouldn't be the first mammal to have a sponge up in her nether-parts.)
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