IL-COOK-SCHAUMBURG-L ArchivesArchiver > IL-COOK-SCHAUMBURG > 2002-04 > 1019765525
From: "susan v" <>
Subject: Re: [IL-Cook-Sch] DENTISTRY.....
Date: Thu, 25 Apr 2002 13:12:05 -0700
We saw Dr Seidel in Mt Prospect in the 50's and 60's and he may have been
there earlier too, don't know for sure.
stier, kirchhoff, busse, schipper, behr, behrens
>From: "... valentine53179" <>
>Subject: [IL-Cook-Sch] DENTISTRY.....
>Date: Sun, 21 Apr 2002 08:47:58 -0500
>Can anyone on the list offer specific places OUR elders went to for
>be sure to include the timeframe that you speak about......
>IN THE GOOD OL' DAYS: DENTISTRY
>BY: COLLEEN PUSTOLA
>I had a series of dental appointments a few weeks back and, while
>sitting in "the chair," it occurred to me that as miserable as I was
>currently feeling, I actually had it pretty good! So many advances have
>been made in dentistry even since I was a child. We willingly go sit in
>a chair, open our mouths, and allow (sometimes) a perfect stranger to
>prowl around in there! :) Well...
>You know how we sometimes long for the days back when? The times were
>slower, quieter, easier. There's a saying that goes, "time eases all
>pain." Well, that may happen for us today, but I doubt that was the
>case "in the good ol' days" of dentistry.
>~ Any time, any place ~
>As happened every morning, the roosters woke him. He climbed out of his
>bed and stretched. A yawn of the newly-awakened, yet still sleepy,
>escaped him and sucking in his breath, he instantly received a jolting
>His tooth hurt something awful! He ran his tongue over the throbbing
>tooth and felt a small, sharp groove where a piece of it had broken off
>two weeks ago. His teeth weren't in the best of shape anyway, but
>he'd never had one pain him like this. It felt like there was a blister
>near the tooth.
>"This has to be fixed." he'd thought to himself.
>Never having taken care of his teeth before this, our ancestor was in
>for a rude awakening. His tooth was now abscessed and needed
>pulling.... Read what likely happened to our ancestor through the
>~ The Ancient World ~
>With varying degrees of success man has utilized methods to lessen pain:
>mandrake, opium and other poppy extracts, henpane, fermented and
>distilled beverages, nerve compresses, cold, extreme fatique from
>prohibiting sleep, bleeding to the point of fainting and shock, and
>The first evidence of a surgical operation was found in Egypt. A
>mandible with two perforations just below the root of the first molar
>indicated the establishment of drainage of an abscessed tooth. The
>approximate date is 2750 B.C. The splinting of teeth also was practiced
>by Egyptians; evidenced by a specimen from Cizeh, 2500 B.C. It shows two
>molars fastened with heavy gold wire.
>In 2700 B.C., the Chinese were known to have treated dental ills with
>knife, cautery, and acupuncture, a technique whereby they punctured
>different areas of the body with a needle.
>Archigenes (c. 54 B.C. to 17 A.D.), a Roman general physician (including
>surgery and dentistry) stated that many cases of toothache were caused
>from a disease in the interior of the tooth. In such cases he introduced
>a technique which has continued to the present day, perforating the pulp
>with a drill, known as trephining. He invented a special drill for this
>purpose. Some of the other treatments he recommended for toothache
>1. Cleaning the decay from the cavity and then placing a mixture of
>turpentine and iron sulfate into the cavity, then dropping some of the
>same mixture into the ear on the side where the pain was felt.
>2. The slough of a serpent, burnt and then reduced, by the addition of
>oil, to the consistency of solidified honey to be introduced into the
>prepared carious hollow and plastered over all the tooth and surrounding
>3. Roasted earthworms and spikenard (a medicinal plant) ointment mixed
>with crushed eggs of spiders to be introduced into the cleaned carious
>4. If the pain is in a broken tooth, Archigenes recommended
>cauterization with a red-hot iron.
>Fun, huh? Read on...
>Claudius Galen (c. 130-200 A.D.), a Greek physician who practiced in
>Rome, recommended treating abscesses by cauterizing the ulcers with
>boiling oil carried to the site with a sort of homemade Roman Q-tip.
>When a tooth is extended above the level of the other teeth, Galen would
>hold the tooth firmly with a small piece of cloth while he filed it with
>an iron file. When the patient began to feel too much pain, he dismissed
>the patient to return the next day and continue the treatment. This went
>on until the tooth was filed even with the other teeth.
>[WARNING: THIS ONE IS GROSS!] One oral hygiene method can hardly be
>classified as an "advance," but it did persist long enough to earn a
>place in the history of dentistry. There is evidence that this custom
>also was borrowed from the Chinese and first record of it comes from the
>inhabitants of Spain. It consists of the use of urine as a mouthwash.
>Eighteen hundred years later the surgeon-dentist Pierre Fauchard advised
>people to use their own urine and only when they are feeling well. He
>admits it is difficult to get accustomed to, but then he adds "what
>would one not do for the sake of one's health."
>~ Europe, Middle Ages ~
>At the onset of the Middle Ages, monks became physicians and dentists,
>while barbers served as their assistants. When, in 1163, the pope ruled
>that any operation involving the shedding of blood was incompatible with
>the priestly office, barbers took over the practice of surgery. For a
>while then, dentistry was carried on by barber-surgeons both in France
>and England. They extracted teeth and performed minor surgery, in
>addition to cutting hair, applying leeches and performing embalming.
>After a number of years however, barber-surgeons were not the only ones
>doing extractions. A group made up of vagabonds who were known as tooth
>drawers plied their trade in public squares.
>Ether was discovered in this period (1275), but it wasn't used as a
>surgical anesthetic agent until 1846. Until then, our ancestors
>continued to suffer excruciating pain at the hands of barber-surgeons
>and tooth drawers.
>Dentistry in the medieval period was largely confined to tooth
>extraction; replacement was seldom considered. Gaps between teeth were
>expected, even among the rich and powerful. However, there have been
>replacements. Since antiquity, the most common material for false teeth
>was animal bone or ivory, especially from elephants or hippopotami.
>Human teeth were also used, pulled from the dead or sold by poor people
>from their own mouths. These kinds of false teeth soon rotted, turning
>brown and rancid. Rich people preferred teeth of silver, gold, mother of
>pearl, or agate. Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603) filled the holes in her
>mouth with cloth to improve her appearance in public.
>At this point in history, the barber-surgeon was the closest thing to a
>dentist yet, but our poor ancestor was still in for a rude awakening...
>Tooth decay became much more prevalent in many European countries in the
>17th century with the introduction of sugar from the East Indies and the
>New World. By around age 40 most people began to experience tooth decay
>and abscess formations. Generally, abscesses went without any effective
>treatment and most resulted in fatalities. Dental infections and
>complications of tooth extraction were among the most common causes of
>death listed in the "Bills of Mortality" from the time the recording
>began in the 1600s until around 1800.
>~ America, 18th Century ~
> >From the landing of the Pilgrims until 1765, nearly 150 years later, six
>tooth drawers came to America. The practitioners devoted themselves
>primarily to the removal of diseased teeth and the insertion of
>The earliest devices for removing decayed tissue when a tooth developed
>a cavity were picks and enamel scissors. Then two-edged cutting
>instruments were designed, they were twirled in both directions between
>the fingers. An improved drill appeared in 1728. Its rotary movement
>was powered by catgut twisted around a cylinder, or by jewelers'
>Since there were no satisfactory filling materials or procedures at that
>time, decay usually proceeded until the patient had a toothache, the
>only remedy being extraction ~ still without anesthesia.
>All these teeth being removed.... when false teeth were installed, they
>were hand-carved and tied in place with silk threads. If not enough
>natural teeth remained, anchoring false ones was difficult. People who
>wore full sets of dentures had to remove them when they wanted to
>eat.* Upper and lower plates fit poorly and were held together with
>steel springs. Disconcertingly, the set of teeth could spring suddenly
>out of the wearer's mouth. The major obstacles to progress were finding
>suitable materials for false teeth, making accurate measurements of
>patient's mouth,and getting the teeth to stay in place. These problems
>began to be solved during this period..
>*Until the late 1800s, catalogs listed "masticators," which crushed food
>so that it could be consumed by those without teeth.
>~ 19th Century ~
>In the 1800's, dental practices included such duties as extracting teeth
>with the turnkey (a primitive tool like a ratchet wrench used for
>extracting teeth), cleaning the teeth with scrapers and removing
>cavities with hand instruments. The filling materials used then were
>tin, gold foil, lead and silver. Dentures were carved from ivory or
>fashioned from the teeth of cattle.
>Up until 1841, when the first dental practice law was enacted in
>Alabama, anyone could hang a dentist sign above their door and start
>pulling teeth. Among those who did were barbers and fish sellers. The
>dental situation on the frontier was even worse. Treatment usually began
>and ended with extraction, sometimes carried out by minimally qualified
>physicians and often by a blacksmith or other persons adept in the use
>Forceps used by the oral surgeons to pull teeth were instruments of
>torture until the 1844 introduction of inhalation anesthesia by Horace
>Wells, a Hartford, Connecticut dentist. Wells had discovered the
>anesthetic use of pure nitrous oxide. However, its effects were of
>short duration. It worked well when only one or two teeth were to be
>extracted. The speed that was required to remove several teeth at one
>sitting before the patient had regained consciousness often resulted in
>mutilation of the tissue, and many broken roots were left in the jaws.
>Still, nitrous oxide anesthesia was a huge improvement on the methods of
>the old days when whiskey stupor was the usual method for easing the
>tortures of extraction.
>In the evening of September 20, 1846, a man came to the office of Dr.
>William T.G. Morton, a Boston dentist. The man was suffering greatly
>from a toothache. He wanted the tooth extracted but was terrified of the
>operation. He had been reading about mesmerism. Apparently he thought
>Morton might be familiar with the technique because he asked him if he
>could mesmerize him before the extraction. Morton told him he had
>something better; he saturated his handkerchief with ether and gave it
>to the man to breathe through. The patient became unconscious and the
>tooth was extracted painlessly. The years of two-hour ordeals removing
>root-fractured teeth and leaving patients semi-conscious and exhausted
>from the agony were finally coming to an end.
>On October 16, 1846, in Massachusetts General Hospital, Dr. Morton
>administered ether while another doctor removed a tumor from the
>patient's lower jaw, with no pain. It is considered by historians to be
>one of the most significant events in the history of mankind.
>The following year, 1847, chloroform anesthesia was discovered in
>In 1855, dentures cost between $2,000 and $5,000 a set! Obviously, not
>many of our ancestors had them, if any at all did.
>In 1856, J. B. Francis invented a technique for extracting teeth using
>forceps attached to an electric battery. The patient held the positive
>pole in his or her hand. When the forceps touched the tooth, the circuit
>was completed and the tooth was quickly extracted. This was not a huge
>Local anesthetics were first used in 1884. Novocaine was introduced
>into the practice of medicine in 1905. Next came Lidocaine in 1950.
>... and from 1950 on, you probably know the rest of this story.
>Although this may seem like a Coffee relating not-at-all to genealogy,
>let's think about this. You may feel this way sometimes, but do you
>honestly believe that *you're* the only person in your ancestral line to
>visit a dentist? And, if you have hesitation about visiting one, just
>think how your ancestor felt! The next time you see an ancestral
>photograph where the person obviously has missing teeth, you can
>remember this Coffee.
>Obviously, this is a subject that every one of us can relate to, as did
>our ancestors. Since tooth and gum decay knows no boundaries ~ male or
>female; red, black, white, brown, or yellow skin; European, African,
>Asian, American, or Australian ~ it is one of our commonalities as
>members of the human race. One thing we don't have to identify with
>today though, is the literal torture our ancestors went through.
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