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Five Odd Practices in Dental History From Your Kelowna Dentists


The practice of dentistry has been around since practitioners referred to themselves as dentists in the 17th century; however, it wasn’t until the end of the 19th century that dentistry became a licensed profession. Since that time, modern dentistry has come a very long way. Your Kelowna dentists have compiled a list of five of the most unusual dental practices that occurred back in the day.

Stick Chewing

The practice of chewing sticks first began around 1600 BC. By chewing the bark off a stick, the inside fibres would fray and as you continued to chew on the stick, the frayed fibres would clean your teeth. Although archaic, this method worked well at keeping the plaque away and keeping teeth and mouths healthy when no alternatives to dental health were available.

Tooth Worms

Without the knowledge that we have today from our Kelowna dentists about tooth decay and poor oral hygiene, many people used to believe tooth decay was caused by tiny little worms that would burrow into teeth and eat away at the inside. Unfortunately, the treatment for teeth worms was almost always worse than the decay itself. “Dentists” would try and smoke the worms out. Once they were satisfied the worms had vacated the tooth, they would then fill the cavity with a mild narcotic-based material. In extreme conditions, the tooth would be removed and nerve endings, mistaken as tooth worms, would also be removed, causing excruciating pain.


When a patient would visit a local barber-surgeon for tooth extraction, one of the procedures commonly used by the surgeon was bloodletting. This practice was based on the belief that draining the body of excess blood would also drain the body of sickness, disease, and infection. Almost always, the patient would leave the surgeon’s office sicker than they had been when they arrived. Fortunately, our Kelowna dentists do not practice or endorse this ancient procedure!

“Waterloo Teeth”

During the mid nineteenth century, dentures made up of real teeth were being offered. The wealthy patient in need of dentures would have their choice of dead or living teeth. If they chose a living tooth, a tooth would be forcibly extracted from the mouth of a poor person or a slave. The unfortunate donor would lose a tooth against their will without compensation of any kind. If they chose a dead tooth, there was a really good chance their tooth came from the mouth of a soldier that died in the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, hence the term “Waterloo Teeth.”

Personal Dental Tools

When visiting a Kelowna dental clinic, all the dental tools are provided as well as sterilized before being used in your mouth. This wasn’t always the case. In Victorian society, providing your own dental tools, usually made from ivory, gold, and pearl, was a status symbol. Only the rich elite could afford this luxury, and this set them apart from the crowd.


Whether you’re visiting us for cosmetic or general dentistry, we provide a comfortable experience with results that will last. Contact us to book an appointment today!

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