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Common Elizabethan Words
Acts I - V Vocabulary
Study Guide
Study Guide Answers
Shakespeare's Dentist
My Dentist Story
Dentist AD
Insult Letter
Reader Response Questions
Character List
Shakespeare's Dentist

Here's some brief information of Shakespeare's Dentist.


 Shakespeare's Dentist


Dentistry in Shakespeares time was a very crude and disgusting art. Teeth were ruined by the efforts to keep them clean. They were rubbed with a mixture of powdered pumice stone, brick and coral. This not only took off the stain, but took off the enamel as well. Other ways to clean teeth were to rinse them with a solution of honey and burnt salt, sugar and honey, or a quart of vinegar and honey and half a quart of white wine boiled together.

Going to the dentist could cost you your life. People died of blood loss and pain due to the instruments that they used. These included pliers, keys with claws - this dislocated the tooth from the socket-, pelicans these dragged the tooth out sideways--7 and an instrument that pulled out the roots.

Bad breath was treated with water and vinegar, then chewing masticke and washing the mouth out with a solution of Annis seeds, mints, and cloves sodden in wine. Also, by placing roasted turnip parings behind a persons ear, you could rid him or her of bad breath.

During this time, fillings were also used. The most common materials were gold leaf, molten lead, or silver scrapings. But usually if the tooth was bad, it was just removed and replaced with a healthy one from someone else. The someone else was a poor person needing money. The dentist would pull one tooth after another to see which one would fit his patients mouth.

When the human supply of teeth went down, the teeth of sheep, dogs, goats and baboons were used. If these supplies went down, teeth from dead people and soldiers were used.

Eventually, false teeth were used. These were made from hippopotamus bones, walrus ivory, silver, mother-of pearl, enameled copper attached to an ivory base, porcelain plaster, or vulcanite and celluloid, which was extremely flammable.





1. Why did attempting to clean ones teeth usually destroy them?

-Because the cleaning utensils were too rough, it destroyed the tooths enamel also.

2. Why could going to the dentist cost you your life?

-Since there were no anesthetics, people often died of pain and blood loss.

3. What were the two most horrible tools used on teeth?

-Pliers and keys with claws.

4. If you were poor, how could you make money in the false teeth business?

-Because almost everybody needed good tooth care and there werent many ways to clean teeth, a poor person can easily make tons of money because everybodys teeth were falling out.

5.    Name the two most awful places to get false teeth? Why?

-A dead person and an animal because it can spread diseases.

6.    Why could smoking be dangerous if you had false teeth?

-Because false teeth were extremely flammable, if you smoke, you could light yourself on fire.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to let me know.