The Ancient Story Of Tooth Worms

tooth wormsIn the ancient times, it was a firmly believed that toothaches were due to worms that eat away the teeth right from the top to the roots. Old literature and scripts from Egypt, China, Sumeria and India are recorded proof of the fact that people at that time believed in the concept of tooth worms.

During those days dental treatment was barbaric and involved extremely painful methods for the removal of tooth worms. The most dangerous fact was that these treatment methods could endanger one’s life as well. Also, barbers were considered to be the forefathers of former dentists and they used to do work like pulling out teeth along with their profession. Here are some peculiar ways in which toothaches or tooth problems were treated during those times.

  • If the cavities were small, ancient dentists used to treat them with a smoke that was formed by low-power narcotics in an emulsion. To form the smoke iron rods were heated. This was quite a dangerous act as hot iron can pose serious injury. Another risk was the accidental inhalation of the emulsion by the patient leading to extensive respiratory injuries.
  • In some places, certain herbs were used to treat dental cavities.
  • An interesting fact was that dental cavities were a rarity in those days.
  • There was no other way to treat a tooth with a large cavity than to pull it out. Imagine a tooth being pulled out without numbing your gums properly! How breathtakingly painfully would that be! The primitive anesthetizing was mainly done through the administration of alcohol which could be a distilled type or grain type.  One or two shots of whiskey would just be enough to distract the patient but there was no provision to make the procedure painless. In some countries, dentists used opium to get the similar effect.

During those years sugar was not considered a main culprit for dental decay or cavities. People thought that teeth just became decayed at some point or another in each person’s life and nothing could be done about it. About a thousand years later, Pierre Fauchard, a dentist by profession, was the first one to bring up the fact that the story of tooth worms was a myth and had no factual information to justify its existence. He was the first one to show the world that dental decay can be avoided and is not destiny that one must succumb to. He is considered the father of modern dentistry for his praiseworthy contribution to the world of dentistry. Today, we know how a dental cavity is formed and what can cause it. Due to the advancing dental technology the concept of tooth worms remains just a fairy tale and nothing more than that!