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Dentistry in Ancient Times


Many people dread the thought of going to the dentist, but in comparison to ancient dentistry, today’s practices are a dream come true!

Reactive, Not Proactive

Today, we schedule routine dental cleanings and exams that prevent painful problems from arising. But in ancient times, dental work was something you sought out only after you already had a problem.

The Tooth Worm vs. the Cavity

The Sumerians in 5000 B.C. believed in the concept of the “tooth worm” rather than the cavity. Cavity holes in the teeth, which can resemble holes dug by worms, were crudely drilled and filled with items such as heated beeswax or cedar oil-soaked linen.

When in Doubt, Pull

Around 500-300 B.C., Aristotle and Hippocrates wrote about how to treat oral diseases and how to use forceps to pull teeth. Without preventative care, often the only treatment that could be done was to pull the affected tooth.

Barber-Surgeons as Dentists

By the year 1000, the barber who cut your hair and trimmed your beard was also the person you’d visit when you needed a tooth pulled. As unbelievable as it may sound, they also were called upon to perform the amputation of limbs.

Animal Teeth to Make a Bridge

By the 1400s, barbers and surgeons became more adept at replacing extracted teeth with bridges and early forms of dentures – but they often involved the use of animal bones or human bones robbed from the graves of the recently deceased.

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