Medieval Dentistry | Dentistry in Medieval Times

Although you may think that the field of dentistry is a modern invention, research indicates that dentistry has been discussed, written about, and practiced in various ways since ancient times. There are actual specimens of dentition, metal prosthetic apparatus, and other indestructible materials showing dental work was done on ancient teeth. Modern dental traditions can be traced back to Egypt, and the Phenicians showed a highly developed understanding of dentistry. Old Etruscan tombs contain examples of bridgework and in an Etruscan specimen in an Italian museum, two incisor teeth were replaced with a single calves tooth designed to make it look like two separate teeth. Because the calf’s tooth showed no prior wear, it has been theorized that it was removed from below the gum of the calf before the tooth erupted! In today’s blog, your Lake Forest Dentist, Dr. Fondriest, shares more interesting historical dental facts about Medieval dentistry.

Middle of the 14th Century

During the middle of the 14th century Guy de Chauliac was a surgeon and surgical writer known for the text-book of surgery “Le Grande Chirurgie.” In his chapters about teeth he wrote then of things that are still relevant today. For instance, using your teeth to break hard things can harm enamel and lead to decay. Sweets, particularly sticky preserves, were recognized as contributing to tooth decay, and he suggested cleaning the teeth often but not too vigorously.

Giovanni of Arcoli, also known by his Latin name, Johanues Arculanus, was a professor of medicine and surgery at Bologna and later at Padua. He too was an important contributor to dentistry before and after the middle of the fifteenth century. He is hailed as the first we know to mention gold fillings.

The Ten Rules of Giovanni of Arcoli

Giovanni of Arcoli considered teeth a matter of great importance and enumerated detailed rules regarding dental hygiene. These rules are:

  • It is necessary to guard against the corruption of food and drink within the stomach; therefore, easily corruptible food milk, salt fish, etc., must not be partaken of, and after meals all excessive movement, running exercises, bathing, coitus, and other causes that impair the digestion, must also be avoided.
  • Everything must be avoided that may provoke vomiting.
  • Sweet and viscous food such as dried figs, preserves made with honey, etc., must not be partaken of.
  • Hard things must not be broken with the teeth.
  • All food, drink, and other substances that set the teeth on edge must be avoided.
  • Food that is too hot or too cold must be avoided, and especially the rapid succession of hot and cold, and vice versa.
  • Leeks must not be eaten, as such a food, by its own nature, is injurious to the teeth.
  • The teeth must be cleaned at once, after every meal, from the particles of food left in them; and for this purpose thin pieces of wood should be used, somewhat broad at the ends, but not sharp-pointed or edged ; and preference should be given to small cypress twigs, to the wood of aloes, or pine, rosemary, or juniper and similar sorts of wood which are rather bitter and styptic; care must, however, be taken not to search too long in the dental interstices and not to injure the gums or shake the teeth.
  • After this it is necessary to rinse the mouth by using by preference a vinous decoctryon of sage, or one of cinnamon, mastich, gallia, moschata, cubeb, juniper seeds, root of cyperus, and rosemary leaves.
  • The teeth must he rubbed with suitable dentrifices before going to bed, or else in the morning before breakfast. Whilst moderate frictions of brief duration are helpful to the teeth, strengthen the gums, prevent the formation of tartar, and sweeten the breath, too rough or too prolonged rubbing is, on the contrary, harmful to the teeth, and makes them liable to many diseases.

About Your Lake Forest Dentist:

Aside from providing dependable family, general, and restorative dentistry services to our community, Dr. James Fondriest also holds respected academic appointments at the Pankey Institute in Key Biscayne, FL, and the Spear Institute in Scottsdale, AZ, and he is an adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Prosthodontics at the University of Florida Dental School. At Lake Forest Dental Arts, Dr. Fondriest combines his impressive array of experience with modern technology and caring, compassionate, knowledgeable staff, and we proudly serve patients from Chicago and all surrounding communities. To schedule a consultation, call our office today at (847) 234-0517.

Source: Psychology Of Medicine, Medieval Dentistry-Giovanni Of Arcoli

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