Chinese art showing for traditional dentistry

3 of History’s Strangest Teeth Traditions

THROUGHOUT HISTORY, dental techniques and practices have looked quit different from what we think of as traditional dentistry today. Different cultures have come up with some pretty unusual solutions for dental health problems. Let’s take a look at a few of the weirdest ones.


1. Mice for Pain Management?

These days, when we hear the word “painkiller,” we generally think of little pills. Ancient Egyptians were more likely to think of mice. This is one of the more interesting dental traditions we’ve heard about! They made a pain-relieving paste, and mice were on the list of ingredients. If someone got a toothache, they would rub this paste over the tender area.


2. Stopping Bruxism With Skulls

What did ancient cultures do about bruxism, or chronic teeth-grinding? The ancient Babylonians believed that demons were to blame for a grinding habit. Their solution was to place a human skull right next to their head while they slept. The skull could supposedly scare away the demon and, by extension, the bruxism. If our traditional dentistry practices today included skulls, would you sleep next to one?!


3. Pitch-Black Smiles

These days, having sparkling white teeth is the beauty standard many of us strive for, but it was the opposite in a lot of Asian cultures in the past. Until the end of the Meiji period, many Japanese women and samurai blackened their teeth in a process called Ohaguro. Black teeth were considered more attractive, and they even believed that the process made teeth more resistant to decay.

In the Early Modern Era, the English loved the expensive new commodity of sugar so much that the royalty were extremely prone to tooth decay. And the weirdest part about having tooth decay was that it was such a big problem among the rich, that it became trendy among the lower classes to artificially blacken their teeth with soot! (Do not try any of these at home.)

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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