Gross Facts About Historical Dentistry

Today, there are so many options for oral care, whether you’re into the natural stuff or not. Dentists help because they clean our teeth and patch up any of the many horrors that can happen if we eat one too many sweets. But it wasn’t always like that. The people who came before us were not nearly as lucky as we are when it came to our pearly whites – some of their methods are so gross that we have to warn you in advance. If you’d like to learn about some of the horrible things they went though, keep reading.  

Dead Mice for Toothaches 

Just about every person on this planet knows how bad a toothache can be – and they’ve been around for a very long time. The Ancient Egyptians took it upon themselves to use dead mice to treat them. They would grind the animals and add in many more ingredients before ending up with a toothache solution. The Elizabethans would later use this idea to treat not just tooth trouble but also smallpox, whooping cough and even bed-wetting.  

Urine as Mouthwash 

This particular treatment was courtesy of the Ancient Romans, who used human and animal urine as a mouthwash – we’re not exactly sure which of these would be worse at this point, but that’s what they did. They would leave pots in public for people to use. And then they would sell it! At the time, it was a profitable business, so much so that government taxed the urine. What’s worse is that is that it worked (because of the ammonia in the urine).  

Real Teeth for Dentures 

Today’s dentures are made of things like porcelain or resin. Centuries ago, dentures were made of real teeth, from different donors. And they were joined together by wires made of different materials like copper, silver and gold. It is believed that poor people sold their teeth for to the rich to create those dentures – grave robbers also went to town on the dead to sell them for a quick buck. And they’ve been found in Italy and Egypt.  

Rotting Teeth Were Fashionable 

In the Tudor era when sugar was a luxury, the rich put it in everything; their fruits, veggies, drinks and just about everything they ingested. So, it didn’t take long for rotten, black teeth to start showing up in their mouths. And so, it became a trend, to the point where poor people resorted to blackening their teeth to appear rich. It’s even rumored that Queen Elizabeth I sported a few herself.  

Barbers Were Dentists 

It sounds convenient right, especially for men? Having a one-stop hair, beard and teeth shop? Well, when you think about the lack of proper hygiene and that hair would probably get inside your already infected mouth, it doesn’t sound as good, now does it? Until some centuries ago, barbers doubled as dentists and even surgeons, although they didn’t call themselves that. And they only specialized in removing decay, not preventative care. It’s a good thing they had steady hands to begin with.