Nearly anyone who has ever had a throbbing toothache would say they would have tried anything to alleviate the discomfort associated with the condition. That attitude was a necessity for Egyptians suffering from dental problems around 2600 BC. At that time live mice were used as to provide dental care
During that time period, mice were valued (Ancient inventions, Peter James, Nick Thorpe) as the Sun God protected them and because they also had lovely, little white teeth. It is for those reasons the critters were used to treat dental pain by letting them roam freely on the gums of a dental pain sufferer.
Those little fur-balls were not the only friends from the animal kingdom that were used to treat unexplained dental ailments. Documentation shows that in Roman times frogs would be tied to a jaw to strengthen teeth and ear drops made of olive oil and boiled earthworms would help reduce pain (Ancient inventions, Peter James, Nick Thorpe). None of these treatments were ever proven to work.
Although scientists and philosophers such as Plato and Socrates often chatted about dentistry, the practice did not become a legitimate profession until the early 1800s. Prior to that launch odd medicinal practices were used and nearly anyone could attempt to cure dental woes. During the Middle Ages, barbers were charged with the task.
Individuals in need could stop at their local hairdresser and get a haircut, shave and tooth extractions. The position of barber-surgeon was called a chirurgeons, and eventually the local hair cutters of the time thought they also had the skills needed to practice dentistry and medicine including the ancient and barbaric practice of bloodletting. Their role in the dental health industry continued for centuries until patients complained that the barbers work was actually making them sick, not better. As a result an ordinance was passed in London circa 1416 forbidding the practice (http://www.barberpole.com/artof.htm).
Cocaine is currently described as being "a powerfully addictive central nervous system stimulant that is snorted, injected, or smoked," but way back when the naturally occurring substance derived from the coca plant was thought to just provide a boost of energy (http://www.nida.nih.gov/drugpages/cocaine.html). There was also a time circa 1884 that the narcotic was commonly used as a dental anesthetic.
In its earliest incarnations, the leaves of the coca plant were balled up and chewed upon to release tiny doses of the substance and that only changed when 19th century chemists started to play around with the plant. After some trial and error, cocaine could be extracted in its purest state and the compound became a favorite of United States pharmacist and soda jerk John Pemberton. He is the man who developed Coca-Cola using the original formula containing a mix of cocaine, caffeine, sugar, kola nut and carbonated water.
Eventually the drug was pulled from the beverage, but found life in the medical field including dentistry. Austrian ophthalmologist, Karl Koller, is linked to introducing the chemical into the surgery biz. He first used cocaine as a local anesthetic for eye surgery and after success in that field the drug was used as a pain blocker for dental procedures. To this day, safer synthetic forms of cocaine are still used for certain medical procedures.
Fortunately, today's dental patients do not have to fear that their office visit will involve animals, bloodletting or the free use of highly addictive drugs. Instead, individuals seeking professional dental care can expect tried and true treatments backed by science and modern technology and 1-800-DENTIST can help individuals find a dentist up to the task.