San Ramon CA Dentist Discusses Toothache Remedies Prior to Modern Anesthesia
My curse upon your venom'd stang.
That shoots my tortur'd gums alang,
An thro my lug gies monie a twang Wi gnawing vengeance,
Tearing my nerves wi bitter pang,
Like racking engines!
--First stanza from Address to the Toothache by Robert Burns (published in the Belfast News Letter, 1797)
Despite the pain felt by Robert Burns’ toothache that caused him to write this poem, he still rather unbelievably manages to maintain his sense of humor! Mankind has been plagued by the pain of toothaches for thousands and thousands of years. Queen Elizabeth I, like many historical figures and peoples throughout history, experienced a toothache so painful in the winter of 1578 that she was forced to stay up all night without rest. Unfortunately, nitrous oxide and other modern anesthesia was not introduced to dentistry until 1844 when an American dentist named Horace Wells successfully pulled a tooth painlessly under the influence of nitrous oxide. For those prior to 1844, like Robert Burns, toothaches continued to plague, yet they were seemingly tolerable in comparison to tooth extraction without anesthetics. Here are a few toothache treatments used throughout history that seem like more of a practical joke than a remedy in spirit of Robert Burns’ poetic humor regarding his own toothache.
Toothworm and Honey Treatment
In the Middle Ages, it was commonly thought that the culprit of a toothache was an evil toothworm that was violently moving around inside the tooth. It was believed honey could be used to lure the toothworm out of the tooth, so people would smear their aching teeth with honey and wait for hours to remove the toothworm.
This one’s not for the faint of heart. A concoction made of spiders, eggshells and oil were boiled together until reduced to one-third of its volume. The ailing patient was then instructed to hold the concoction in his or her mouth until the pain was soothed.
Equally disturbing as spider juice, a recently killed rabbit’s brain-juices were rubbed on the infected tooth in an attempt to soothe the pain.
An old wive’s tale suggested that if you place a hard-boiled egg in a teething baby’s room, they would have an easier time.
Fortunately for modern anesthetics and dentistry, your San Ramon CA dentist is able to painlessly and efficiently cure any toothaches or infected teeth. We hope that our patients commit to an approved oral hygiene routine by brushing twice daily, flossing and rinsing daily, and visiting their San Ramon CA dentist twice a year for an oral cleaning and exam. By taking preventative measures, you’ll avoid the misery that Robert Burns felt from his own toothache.