Tuesday, November 18, 2008

It could be worse

There's a book up for auction this week. It was written in 1770 by Thomas Berdmore. Never heard of him? He was the dentist to King George III. This is likely the first ever English textbook on dentistry. Personally, I find Berdmore's insights to be priceless! Here's a few gems, from this article:

He writes of a 23-year-old woman left in a “terrible state” by a “barber dentist”.

“She went to a barber dentist to have the leftmolaris tooth of the upper jaw on the right side taken out,” he says.

“On second attempt he brought away the affected tooth together with a piece of jawbone as big as a walnut and three neighbouring molars.”

He says the “barber dentist” embarked on the ill-fated extraction because he was “uneasy at disappointment”.
Ha ha! I would also consider myself "uneasy at disappointment" but I'd like to think I'll stop before ripping out half of your maxilla!

Berdmore also possessed a rudimentary understanding of orthodontics, instructing fellow dentists (and barber-dentists) to "Pass gold wire from the neighbouring teeth on either side in such a manner as to press upon what stands out of the line." Either that, or you could try to “break the teeth into order by means of a strong pair of crooked pliers”.

He also observed that sugar and smoking were harmful, and that for this reason peasants suffered less dental disease than their noble counterparts.

Anyway, I just wanted to pass this along as a reminder that dentistry has come a long way and you really don't have a lot to be afraid of (relatively speaking).

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