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Dentistry in History

May 19th, 2009 · 1 Comment

shutterstock_29886673These days, tattoos and piercings are all the rage for young people. It seems faddish and immature to some, but ours isn’t the first culture to do silly things to alter our image. Hundreds -even a thousand years ago, people altered their bodies in the name of faddish beauty – and I use that term lightly. This is common knowledge, but did you know dentists did some of the work?

Prior to the Spanish conquests in the 1500s, regular folks were wearing bling on their choppers. According to a post at the National Geographic website, ancient Mesoamericans had dentists cement small, precious gems into their teeth. We’re not talking about a practice for only royalty here; just your average Joe was walking around with gems in his smile.

The first question that comes to mind is How?! Then, Did they have anesthesia? Apparently, the dentists would drill teeth with a bit made from obsidian, which could cut bone. They might have used herbs to anesthesize patients. Gems were cemented in place with a mixture of resins, like sap, and a pinch of crushed bone.

Long before Mr. Modern Mesoamerica was sporting a jeweled grill, in about 2570 BC, his great, great, great, great grandfather wore dentures that featured fangs.  Aparently, the ancients filed down upper teeth, exposing canals (yeowch!!), and then placed a denture made from jaguar or wolf teeth onto the upper arch.

Up north, Vikings also had an odd cosmetic dentistry practice. They filed their teeth down to a nice, even line. This was between 750 and 1100 AD. Historians believe that the Vikings learned the practice from Europeans, where other cultures had a similar practice.

Tags: Just for Fun

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 John Evans // May 24, 2009 at 11:43 am

    Very interesting post, we can only imagine today how were the toothache remedies back in those days…

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