Going to the dentist may not be the most exciting way to spend your afternoon, but it certainly beats undergoing some of the dental treatments that were practiced in the past!
In fact, modern dentistry allows patients to enjoy a comfortable, pain-free experience — which is a far cry from dental treatments used hundreds of years ago. Most people would be surprised to find out just how gruesome dental practices were in ancient civilizations and even as recently as a century ago.
Think dental treatments nowadays are troublesome? Take a look at some of the most bizarre, cringe-worthy dental techniques of the past.
Historic Dental Remedies and Treatments
Today, we know that a toothache is often the result of infection, gum disease, or dental trauma
In most cases, the outer protective layer of enamel erodes away or is destroyed from trauma, leaving the sensitive inner layers of the tooth vulnerable to infection. Since the inner layer of the tooth, known as the pulp, contains blood vessels and nerves, patients will often experience sensitivity.
While we know that bacteria and plaque are the main culprits of dental problems, most civilizations in the past used treatments influenced by superstitions, religion, and medical practices of the time. Some of the most outrageous treatments for toothaches and other dental ailments include:
Luring Tooth Worms: For thousands of years, different societies believed that tooth worms were the cause of toothaches. These worms would burrow into the tooth, and when they moved, it would cause pain. Depending on the time period and location, the solution would be to lure the worms out.
The Aztecs attempted to rid tooth worms by chewing on hot chili peppers. Another common practice among other societies would be to coat the tooth in honey to draw out the tooth worm.
Medieval Bleaching: During the Middle Ages there were no dental professionals, so barbers would often perform dental treatments. It was common during the Medieval era for barbers to bleach teeth using aqua fortis, which is essentially nitric acid. Although the mixture would help to brighten teeth, it was also highly corrosive and usually lead to tooth decay.
Urine Toothpaste: The Romans are known for their advanced contributions to law, art, architecture, philosophy, and engineering. However, they also had a pretty bizarre take on dental care. Ancient Romans are known for using human urine to gargle and brush their teeth. What’s even more strange is the fact that most believed that urine from Portugal was the most effective, making it a hot commodity among many Romans.
Scientist today believe that although shocking, the Romans actually had the right idea when it comes to the beneficial properties of urine. It turns out that the ammonia composition of urine is actually helpful for cleaning teeth.
Egyptians Using Dead Mice: The ancient Egyptians believed that placing a dead mouse on a tooth would cure toothaches. The Egyptians believed that the mouse was protected by the sun and was capable of fending off death.
The individual would place half of the dead mouse on the affected area in hopes of curing the toothache. Obviously, following this superstition would often worsen the area due to bacteria from the mouse spreading to the teeth and gum tissue.
Rabbit Brains for Teething Baby: One backwoods legend that was used for teething babies was using fluid from rabbit brain. This old wive’s tale made it common to rub fluid from the rabbit brain on the baby’s gums to soothe the teething baby.
Enjoy Comfort and Care at Amherst Village Dental
Fortunately, modern techniques and technology allow for patients to remain comfortable throughout their dental treatment. Whether you need a routine cleaning or extensive restorative treatment, we’re here to give you high-quality care tailored to your own individual needs. To learn more, contact our office today and schedule your next appointment with Dr. Bernard Ang.