Forget Pain Relief or Anaesthesia
If you had a dental problem in medieval times the answer was to have your tooth extracted. There were no dental specialists and this procedure was carried out by the local barber without pain relief or anaesthesia. Alcohol was often used as it works as a disinfectant for the mouth and also intoxication helped with the pain. The biggest problem was in the follow up care after the extraction. Excessive bleeding was often a fatal issue with this dental practise.
Tools of the Trade
The first dental tool that was invented was the dental pelican which got its name due to being shaped like a pelican’s beak. This was used to perform dental extractions. The claw was used to clamp onto the tooth then pulled sideways to remove the tooth. This would have been painful and placed a high risk on damaging the gum and surrounding teeth. This was superseded by the dental key which again got its name from its shape. This worked by using the claw to grab the tooth then a rotating motion was used to pull out the tooth. However, this had a tendency to cause the tooth to break resulting in jaw fractures and tissue damage.
Oral Cancer Treatment
There were a few skilled surgeons around who could treat mouth cancer by cutting out the tissues and then cauterisation. They would then seal it with egg yolk and rinse it with wine. Follow up treatment included rubbing with alum and applying a lotion made from wine, honey and various herbs.
Treatments Restricted for the Rich
The rich minority were privileged enough to afford dentures. These were made from cow bone or human teeth. The rest of society looked to prayer and pilgrimage to treat their ailments.
The main goal was to have clean teeth and fresh breath which is generally what people strive for today. They had preventative measures in place making a paste and using linen to clean their teeth. Vinegar and various herbs or spices were also used as a mouth wash. Herbs such as mint and parsley were chewed to maintain breath freshness.
With a lack of pain relief or anaesthesia medieval dental practices were dangerous. Dental care wasn’t available to everyone, however, and was one of the privileges the rich were privy to. However, their preventative approach is similar to today’s practices. Whilst medieval hygiene was important, dental practices had a long way to go in advancements.
Dr Paulo Pinho at Widsom Teeth Professionals Sydney has extensive training in oral surgery, including the removal of wisdom teeth. Dr Pinho also has developed a great protocol to prevent and treat dry sockets. To learn more, call Dr Paulo Pinho at Wisdom Teeth Professionals in Sydney on 1300 217 858.
The information contained in this article is intended to give you general information and it is not intended to replace professional medical advice.