Multiple myths surround the dental world. Though there are many medical myths, dentistry has its own mystique – its own special phobia. It begins in childhood, like the boogieman. The dentist brings all the joy and thrill of a clown car full of Pennywise clones. This irrational fear of the dentist seems innate to us, existing as far back as we can remember.
Perhaps it’s the drill awakening our animal instinct to self-preserve. Whatever the case, humans have attempted to temper the disaffection and discomfort of dental issues in some truly bizarre ways. It just stokes the illogical in all of us, and it’s been going on since early man. These myths are in fact NOT old wives tales. People really did try this stuff. It may not have worked, but they did try it. We suppose that makes them true accounts.
For thousands of years, it was alleged that toothaches were caused by worms – little toothworms that would bore into you as they would an apple. Sometimes the little guys would writhe around inside the enamel; sometimes they would take naps. You could tell what was going on in your tooth by the pain level. During medieval times, honeybees donated the fruits of their labor to cover a problem tooth. A tasty “cure,” folks would blanket the tooth with honey to form a thick, airtight seal in an effort to force their little worm friends up for air. This one finally got rooted out of common practice during the early 1700s.
It’s also unclear if John Coffey’s special talent in the Green Mile was influenced by the practice of spitting your pain into a frog’s mouth. That’s right. To alleviate one’s pain, instead of using a mouse, people would pry little frogs’ mouths open and let ‘er fly, hoping the toothworm would be jettisoned along with the spit and eaten by the frog.
Back in the days of Zeus, Greek donkey mares gave their milk for the cause. It was believed that if you used donkey milk as a mouthwash, you would develop strong teeth and gums. It is unknown if this is what led to the discovery of calcium and Vitamin B.
There’s a rural urban myth about a teething cure. To help a teething child, whenever Merl and Paw would go a’huntin, they would bring home their kill. If they had caught a rabbit, they would crack that rabbit’s skull open and pour out the juice. This juice would then be applied to the baby’s gums for the duration of the teething period. Or until the baby died.
There’s another food-related myth concerning teething: the hard-boiled egg exercise. If you have a teething baby, put a hard-boiled egg in the nursery. The baby’s pain will be largely alleviated. The myth doesn’t specify if the exercise needs to be conducted in the baby’s own room or in any room where she may happen to be sleeping at the time, perhaps the kitchen. Baby fell asleep in the highchair? Boil a few eggs. The baby will wake up – and be cured!
Chris Turberville-Tully works with ITI, the International Team for Implantology, providing dental implant courses.