The Teeth: Natural & Artificial

Feb 18, 2013 by

teethThe Teeth: Natural & Artificial was originally published in 1880. I love this little book! I’m not sure why, but learning about how they took care of teeth in the late 19th century fascinates me sort of like when you drive by a car accident and you really don’t want to look but you do anyway? This book also makes me so grateful to live in in our current day and age and I am so very thankful for current dentistry!

Here’s a little molar for you to read about:

“Usually, between the seventeenth and twenty-first years, the third molars, or wisdom teeth (so-called because they do not appear until the individual has reached maturity), are erupted. There is generally but little inconvenience attending their appearance ; but in those cases where there is not sufficient room for all of the teeth in the jaws, there is considerable pain and swelling, and sometimes sore throat, difficulty of swallowing, and severe constitutional disturbance. Under these circumstances, lancing the gums and systemic treatment are often demanded, and in some extreme cases even the extraction of the tooth or of the one in front of it.

At six, at twelve, and at seventeen years of age, or until the wisdom teeth have been fully erupted, it is well for patients suffering from eye or ear troubles, or from any deranged condition not otherwise accounted for, to seek the opinion of a competent dentist, in order to learn whether or not an explanation is to be found in the mouth. The importance of proper attention to the cleanliness of the teeth can hardly be overstated, and yet few, even of those who pride themselves upon the care which they bestow upon these organs, give to them the time and labor which their value would justify.

As a preventive of diseases of the teeth and gums, constant attention to their thorough cleanliness is of unquestioned importance; for thus not only is the formation of tartar prevented, but the removal of particles of food and other extraneous matters (which lodge about and adhere to them, and which, if allowed to remain, would corrupt the secretions of the mouth and irritate and inflame the gums) is secured. The deposit called tartar, which collects more or less about the teeth of every one, varies greatly in appearance, quantity, and character. In different individuals it is black, brown, green, yellow, or nearly white. Its presence is more or less hurtful according to its character and quantity. In some cases its influence is exceedingly pernicious, causing the gums to become swollen, inflamed, and spongy; suppuration occurs about their margins, followed by their recession from the necks of the teeth, and by the absorption or waste of the sockets. The gums become so sensitive that the use of a toothbrush is exceedingly painful, and because of this no effort is made to keep the mouth clean.

The tartar accumulates rapidly, and the result is the destruction more or less speedily of the alveolar processes, and the loosening of the teeth until they drop out. These, however, are not the only results. The breath becomes fetid ; the fluids of the mouth are vitiated ; indigestion, loss of appetite, affections of the eyes, pains in the ears, headaches, neuralgias, and general disturbance of the health follow. That derangements of the digestive functions and consequent impairment of the whole economy may result from a diseased condition of the mouth, is too well established to require argument. The presence of decayed teeth and roots, ulcerated or suppurating gums, accumulations of tartar, etc., must necessarily pollute the saliva, and thus cause irritation more or loss severe of the mucous membranes of the stomach.

The exhalations from a mouth so diseased may also, and no doubt they often do, produce an injurious effect upon the bronchial tubes and lungs. These being facts, it is much to be lamented that many parents are so neglectful as to allow their children to grow up without having acquired the habit of keeping the mouth scrupulously clean; paying no attention to the condition of the teeth until an exposed nerve speaks with a voice that will not be silenced, announcing the mischief which has been allowed to proceed unchecked. Still more, it is wonderful that so many persons fail to appreciate the importance of taking care of their own teeth, until compelled to do so by their decay and the consequent suffering. Then, when the demand has become imperative, their chief thought seems to be, not how best to prevent further mischief, and retain what is left of their dental organs in as perfect condition as may be, but how cheaply immediate palliation of their discomfort can be secured ; and as though there were no gradations in skill, or in value of the materials used, making no account of the time required for faithful service, they think only of the cost, and congratulate themselves when they succeed in finding a cheap dentist. This is the worst possible economy. Judgment and proficiency are the results of time and labor, and they should command a remuneration equivalent to their worth.”



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