The world of dentistry has a long, strange history. Here are 10 weird and wonderful facts you probably didn’t know about teeth.
Modern cavities are filled with amalgam, a combination of various metallic elements, but the historical record shows that people have been plugging up cavities since the Neolithic era. Researchers found a 6500-year-old human canine in Slovenia that contains traces of a beeswax filling, likely to reduce the patient’s pain and sensitivity.
Teeth have also been found with stone-drilled holes in them, showing that the first dental “drills” were made of stone. In Pakistan, scientists discovered at least 9 people who had holes in their molars. All patients had survived the procedure and gone on to lead happy lives (or, as far as science can tell, chew things.) The findings suggest that man’s first trip to the dentist happened as early as 9,000 years ago.
If you lived in colonial days and had a toothache, you would head to a blacksmith or barber shop before heading to the doctor. Both blacksmiths and barbers had the tools necessary to pull teeth—the only way people back then dealt with a toothache.
From ancient times, all the way to the beginning of the 18th century, it was widely believed that tooth decay was caused by a worm residing inside the teeth. It wasn’t until 1960 that Doctor Paul Keyes discovered that tooth decay was in fact caused by the Streptococcus Mutans bacteria. (Well, technically, it’s caused by the acid excreted by the bacteria, but more on that later.)
If you were a Christian living in medieval times, heading over to your local blacksmith for some dental work, there was someone you could pray to: Saint Appolonia, the patron saint of teeth and tooth pain. Appolonia was a deaconess who got her title from the way she was tortured: all of her teeth were violently pulled out or shattered by an angry mob. A horrible way to go by anyone’s estimate, but least her memory lived on to comfort others: not only was she prayed to for dental health, but objects claimed to be her teeth were sold as toothache cures.
Fortunately, dentistry has come a long way since ancient times, and patients can now get care with minimal pain. If you need a dental cleaning or dental checkup, stop on by Park Cedar Dentistry, and our qualified dentists will be happy to help you achieve your perfect smile!