307 Grafton St #203, Shrewsbury, MA 01545

The 18th Century Toothache Remedy That’s Just. Plain. Wrong.

Mark Twain is the father of American literature. James Brown is the godfather of soul. There’s a father for everything, and dentistry is no exception. Pierre Fauchard, (1672-1761), a French physician and author, is widely credited as the father of modern dentistry. Though he was years ahead of his fellow dentists, Fauchard didn’t get it right every time. At the office of Dr. Todd Pizzi, we’re used to treating toothaches in Shrewsbury, MA. We’re pleased to say that there’s one Fauchardian toothache remedy that we’ll never, ever try.

What Fauchard Got Right…

Fauchard’s contributions to dentistry are seen and felt everywhere. His fellow dentists found several of his theories and practices outrageous, like his proposal that tooth decay is caused by sugar; they believed tooth worms were the culprit. He was also first to suggest dental fillings for teeth that had been compromised by decay, and he contributed much to the development of dental drills and dentures. Despite initial reluctance from the dental community, his ideas were soon accepted and adopted far and wide.

…And What He Didn’t

Fortunately, not all of his wisdom caught on. When he got it wrong, well, it was really wrong. Enter Fauchard’s particularly disgusting home toothache remedy: urine. This was well before the invention of Listerine in the 19th century, and several hundreds of years before topical oral anesthetics like Kanka and Anbesol. Fauchard’s notes even included a stomach-churning recommendation to achieve optimal toothache pain relief, advising the reader to “retain [the urine] some time in the mouth and continue its use.” Unsurprisingly, and much to our great relief, the practice did not become commonplace.

To Fauchard’s credit, there is some scientific basis to his unusual remedy. Ammonia and ammonia derivatives are found in urine, having also been used as detergent by the Romans. Ammonia is a base, which means it can be used to neutralize acids such as those produced by bacteria and contributing to tooth decay and toothaches. Ugh.

Modern Treatment for Toothaches

Toothaches can be caused by one of several factors, and may affect one tooth or many. For example, a single painful tooth could suggest a cavity or an infection that may require a root canal treatment. If several teeth are sensitive, it’s possible that the enamel has worn thin, exposing the layer of dentin and nerves beneath. Your dentist will carefully examine the outside of your tooth and gums, and will take an x-ray to look for potential problems within the tooth. Treatment varies, but rest assured – we won’t be looking to Fauchard for guidance on this one.

Thank goodness for modern dentistry! To learn more about treating tooth pain in Shrewsbury, MA, or to schedule an appointment with one of our doctors, contact us at (508) 842-8838. We welcome patients living in Shrewsbury, Hopkinton, Boylston, North and South Grafton, and the surrounding cities.