A Trip into the Past: Dental Care in Colonial Times

We often forget to take care of our teeth because we have electric toothbrushes, dental floss, and regular checkups. But when we look back at history, we see that dental care in the colonies was very different from what we do now. Come with us on a trip through time to learn about how people in early America took care of their teeth.

The Colonial Toothache: Treatments and Dependence

  1. Ways to Treat Toothaches: People in the colonies had to get creative when they had toothaches. Most of the time, they used natural medicines to ease the pain. Due to their slight pain-relieving effects, cloves were chewed on the wound to numb it. When mixed with water, salt was used as a simple cleanser to ease pain.
  1. Chewing Sticks: There were no toothbrushes like the ones we have now. People brushed their teeth with twigs or sticks whose ends were frayed instead. The aim of these biting sticks was to clean food and plaque off of teeth.
  1. Toothpaste you make yourself: It wasn’t until the 1800s that the first commercial toothpaste came out. When people lived in the colonies, they made their own toothpaste by mixing chalk or charcoal powder with water and a little honey for flavor.
  1. Extracts: Extraction was the last option for oral problems that couldn’t be fixed at home. In colonial America, dentistry often meant taking out teeth that were hurting or badly damaged. At that time, there were no official dentists, so this job was often done by skilled blacksmiths or barbers.

What You Eat Affects Your Oral Health

The food that colonists ate was very different from what people eat now. They didn’t eat or drink as many sugary things as people do now, but their food was often very rough, which could have caused teeth problems. Abrasive foods like cornmeal, hardtack cookies, and others may make your teeth and gums wear down faster.

Also, people who don’t take care of their teeth properly or brush their teeth regularly let plaque and tartar build up, which can cause a number of oral health problems.

What Dental Care Means for Society

In colonial America, good mouth health was important for personal well-being and also showed how well-off someone was socially. People who were missing teeth or had cavities were often looked down upon by others. People who don’t have teeth might be seen as less attractive as potential spouses, and people who have dental problems might have trouble getting certain jobs or places in their communities.

Dental Care Progress: The First Dentists

The field of dentistry started to change over time. Charles Allen wrote “The Surgeon Dentist,” which was the first book about dentistry. It came out in 1685. Dentistry was also recognized as a separate field of work, and the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery was the first dental college to open in 1840.

The Golden Age of Dentistry

People today are lucky to have access to many health care services and tools that people in the colonies could only dream of. We now get regular check-ups, fluoride treatments, and more complicated restorative techniques at the dentist.

Even though dental care wasn’t very good in the colonial era, it’s important to remember how strong our ancestors were, as they did their best to deal with tooth problems with what they had. Their stories tell us how far dental care has come and how important it is to take care of our teeth today so that we can keep our smiles for years to come.