Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Drill, Baby, Drill a/k/a What a Pain

by Connie Cortright

If you didn't like the idea of toothbrushes made from boar bristles during the 20s, you probably won't enjoy this week's topic either. If people had to use toothbrushes that were so hard on their teeth, what was going to the dentist like in the 20s and 30s?

There were certainly two different scenarios for people with tooth problems back then. Poor people used the method on the left to take care of a tooth ache. Ma or Pa would pull the tooth on their own. I imagine during the Depression, this was a common occurrence since people didn't have extra money to deal with things like a toothache. The thought of that sends a shiver up my spine.

The rich people could have a completely different experience, but maybe not much more pleasant. When they had toothaches, they took a trip to the dentist's office. By the 1930s dental offices had learned the importance of germ-free environment, so the office looked sterile and cheerless. Definitely not as inviting as offices are today.

Many developments earlier in the century made trips to the dentist somewhat safer by the 1930s. Novocaine has been used in the U.S. since 1907. Amalgam fillings were used also earlier in the century.

By 1923 the American Association of Dental Schools was established so that dentist could be trained in a formal setting resulting in common methods to fix common dental problems. Also during the 20s the Ritter Dental Company introduced the Model A Dental X-Ray machine. Not really sure I'd like to be exposed to X-Rays from this early machine, however. Notice the rosary pictured next to the x-ray machine. Maybe that's telling us something. More chills running up my spine.

Fluoride was developed in the 1930s and became commonly used by most cities in the country to prevent cavities. Fluoridated water was commonplace by the time I was a little girl and probably saved many children from having to use all these scary looking dental tools.

Going to the dentist even today is about the least favorite thing that I can think to do, but I'm so glad dental care has developed in the last decades to more modern equipment today. I'm glad I don't have to sit in a dentist chair like this and have him use equipment like this. Wouldn't give me too much confidence.

Now we know why mothers back then told their children to brush their teeth every evening - even if it was with boar bristle brushes.

Information taken from History of Dentistry

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