When Painless Dentistry Made Use Of Laudanum Or Chloroform

Many people silently endure the pain of a toothache than go to the dentist. Usually the needle is what keeps people away from dentists but injections are no longer used in painless dentistry; instead they use paste, solution or spray to numb the gums. The sound of the dentist’s drill triggers fear but is now replaced by a beam of light that can clean tooth decay.

In the 19th century, dentists promoted their ability to provide painless dentistry through a range of distasteful and often dangerous methods like ether, chloroform and later, cocaine. Those who afford to pay for anesthesia were warned of risks like deaths from taking gas.

Other dentists claimed that they have less hazardous painless methods like tooth extraction through congelation that involves freezing the gums. Later on laughing gas or protoxide of nitrogen was introduced.

It is very unlikely for people to be convinced to have their tooth extracted by Dr. Mounsey of Chelsea. An 1899 article documented the procedure.  A strong piece of catgut was fastened around the tooth that has to be removed. At the opposite end, a bullet was fastened and with a strong dose of powder a pistol is charged. Once the trigger has been pulled, the tooth is also removed.

The dental vibrator which was invented in 1891 masked the pain of tooth extractions. A patient has to hold on to metal handles that are connected to an electric coil that gives the patient the peculiar sensation of pins and needles that are induced by the current.

In an 1884 article, toothache was an issue that was widely discussed in many columns. Since toothache was so pervasive, there were records of fatal overdoses from laudanum and chloroform that were taken for relief. Other toothache remedies like elixirs were said to be responsible for early deaths and addictions.

Nowadays, painless dentistry is pretty harmless. People no longer have to worry about pain, swelling, blood and stitches because dental treatments are completely pain-free. You can be sedated during the dental procedure by simply putting 1 or 2 pills under the tongue to make you relaxed and comfortable.