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8 Weird Dental Practices Throughout History You Won't Believe

February 12, 2024


Dental care has evolved significantly over the centuries and the journey to the modern practices the best dentists in Miami use now has been filled with some truly bizarre techniques. From ancient civilizations to medieval Europe, here are eight weird dental practices throughout history that will leave you astonished.

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8 Weird Dental Practices Throughout History

Tooth Worms

Ancient civilizations, including the Sumerians, Egyptians, and Greeks, believed that toothaches were caused by tiny worms burrowing into teeth. To treat this, they would often try to "smoke out" the worms or use various herbal remedies to kill them.

Cocaine as Anesthesia

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, cocaine was used as a local anesthetic in dentistry. While it effectively numbed the area being treated, it also led to addiction and other serious health problems for both patients and practitioners. The widespread abuse of cocaine in dentistry eventually led to its prohibition in medical practice.

Barber-Surgeon Dentistry

During the Middle Ages and Renaissance, barbers often performed dental procedures alongside their usual haircutting services. These "barber-surgeons" would extract teeth, perform rudimentary surgeries, and even administer bloodletting—all without the benefit of anesthesia or proper medical training. This dual role of barbers as dentists persisted for centuries until dentistry became a distinct profession.

Brass Wire Toothbrushes

In the 18th and 19th centuries, toothbrushes were often made with materials like animal hair or bristles attached to handles made of bone or wood. However, for those who could afford it, toothbrushes made with brass wire bristles were considered a luxury item. These wire bristles were harsh on the gums and could cause damage to tooth enamel.

Mouse Paste

During the Elizabethan era in England, it was common for people to use a mixture called "mouse paste" to relieve toothaches. This paste was made by mixing crushed mice with various herbs and spices and then applying it to the affected tooth

Bloodletting for Toothaches

This practice, popular in Europe from the Middle Ages to the 19th century, involved drawing blood from the patient to treat various ailments, including toothaches. While ineffective for dental problems, it could have had serious health consequences.

Ivory Dentures

Before modern dentistry, people would often replace missing teeth with dentures made from materials like ivory. These dentures were not only expensive but also uncomfortable and prone to decay, leading to further dental issues.

Reflecting on these historical dental practices serves as a reminder of how far the field of dentistry has come. While modern dental care may still be daunting for some, it is undoubtedly safer and more effective than the bizarre practices of the past.

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Are You Looking for the Best Dentist in Miami?  

At Danowit Dental, we promise to keep your dental care free from barbaric practices of the past—no barbers, tooth worms or mouse paste involved! Instead, trust in our modern expertise for the safest dental care. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and experience the difference firsthand. We hope you learned something new today about the fascinating history of dentistry!

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