Dental History, Legends & Misconceptions

Cultural Anthropologists and Archeologists are agreed that as long as humans have existed, dental issues have existed alongside them. Modern dentistry, as practiced by EK Dental Surgery, is now well researched, safe, and effective.

This is a change from history, in which dentistry was based on old wives’ tales, folklore, and a large amount of guesswork. Across the time dentistry has evolved it has also resulted in lengthy list of interesting achievements, odd accomplishments, and funny facts.

At EK Dental Surgery we’re taking time in this post to step back from the important work of keeping your oral health at tiptop levels to share some of the unusual and interesting aspects of dentistry, both through history and today. So, let’s take a look at some dental history.

Commercial toothpaste has only existed for about 200 years. Before this people used a range of odd concoctions to keep their teeth shiny. Ancient ingredients of toothpaste included powder of ox hooves and burnt eggshells, which would often be combined with pumice. The Greeks and Romans also used charcoal and chalk to clean their teeth. The Romans, believe it or not, also used urine as mouthwash.

In China, in 1498, the first toothbrush with bristles was made from hog, horses and badger fur. The first commercial toothbrush was manufactured in 1938.

A common problem across time has been the toothache. And the remedies for it have been varied, to say the least.

Honey bees, toothworms, frogs, and eggs

Loretta Frances Ichord writes, in “Toothworms and Spider Juice: An Illustrated History of Dentistry,” that people in ancient times believed that toothaches were caused by toothworms. To fight the toothworm honey was used to coat the infected tooth. This was supposed to force the worm out, and sufferers waited at night with tweezers, ready to yank the toothworm out when it emerged.

There were other possibilities as well. Early Scotts believed that you could fight the toothworm with a close relative: the caterpillar. They thought if you wrapped a caterpillar in a red cloth and placed it near the aching tooth, the pain would stop. For the Aztecs, the solution was to chew chili and burn the toothworm out.

There were other wives’ tales as well.

Frogs Besides spitting in a frog’s mouth for toothache relief, these web-footed creatures were applied to a person’s cheek or to the head on the side of the painful tooth.

Hard-Boiled Eggs. If you placed a hard-boiled egg anywhere in a teething baby’s room, the teething pain would be mysteriously treated.

While all of this seems silly, consider some beliefs that persist to this day.

Pregnant women should not go to the dentist. Not true. In fact, routine dental care—including professional cleaning—protects against preterm labour. Pregnancy can make it easier for gum disease and cavity formation.

Changes in hormone level and increased volume of blood soften gum tissue, allowing easier access to bacteria. Morning sickness can make the problem worse, as it erodes enamel and hastens decay. So, go ahead and visit EK Dental Surgery, just be certain to tell us you are pregnant.

No pain means no problem. Some dental issues produce pain, others start off with no symptoms at all. In many cases, by the time pain is evident the damage is already done. Regular dental checkups are important in detecting and treating dental issues in their early stages.

All dentists are just the same. People who say this have never visited EK Dental Surgery! Nearly all dentists are now specially trained to perform a number of superior levels of all medical professionals and practices like ours also focus on a perfect patient experience.

Finally, a tie between historical dental practices and practices today.

Bejeweled Teeth. The Mayans loved to demonstrate power through aesthetics and also had an extremely advanced understanding of teeth. These two tendencies came together in Mayan dental decoration.

The Mayans drilled holes in their teeth and fitted gems in them, a very difficult procedure to complete without breaking the tooth, especially using primitive tools. But the Mayans were not only known dentists for their bejewelling of teeth, they were also notorious for shaping them into more interesting shapes, often cutting parts of the tooth out. In general, these tooth modifications were the province of men, not women.

Today, a similar but less permanent approach to decorating teeth can be found in the “tattooth”. A tattooth is a dental crown with an initial, logo, or any other image applied to a surface. Tattooths are only semi-permanent; your Glen Waverley dentist can remove them with the dental appliance.

EK Dental Surgery offers a wide range of preventative and cosmetic dental procedures for children, seniors, and everyone in between! At EK Dental we can help you achieve maximal dental health and a movie-star smile!

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