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What Was Dentistry Like in the Wild West?

» 25 April 2013 » In Dallas Texas Dentist, Dentistry and Health »

Arlington TX Dentist | Dentist Office in Arlington Texas | Arlington Dentist William MillerWe’ve found ourselves wondering lately: Before our modern Dallas, TX dentist offices, what was dentistry in Texas like during the days of the Wild West?

Dentistry in the Wild West was much less the exact science it is today and more about creative solutions and educated guessing. It’s not only that people did not know as much about teeth as they do today, there were also many difficult challenges that came with dental work on the frontier, due to poor dental hygiene, lack of tools and facilities, and a scarcity of properly educated dentists.

An Abundance of Poor Dental Hygiene

Dental trauma was an everyday part of life in the Old West, a time of poor nutrition, few toothbrushes, and plenty of pebbles in the food. When your tooth hurts badly enough you will do something about it, even if what you have to do about it seems desperate and unwise to modern people. You will have no choice but to go with the best dentistry you can find.

Lack of Dental Tools and Facilities

There were problems that even the best doctor simply could not solve with the tools of the day. Preventative care wasn’t available. There were no X-rays, so there was no way to see into the jaw. Dentists in the Texas of the Wild West did not even have electric light. The only way to inspect the mouth was during the day, with mirrors to direct the sunlight into the back of the throat. What’s more, there was no anesthetic. Though ether, morphine, and nitrous oxide were all invented by the time of the Wild West, dentists in Texas would not have had access to them.

Shortage of Proper Dentists

In the Wild West era, chances were good that many dentists were not very qualified, and it was even more likely that the person who claimed to be a dentist was just a barber or blacksmith wearing a different hat. There were few schools of dentistry and no legal obligation to attend them to call yourself a dentist. All you had to do to be a dentist was to put up a shingle and start treating patients. As you can imagine, some of the people claiming to be dentists were not very good. However, if you lived in out west, like in Texas, and needed a TX dentist, there were dentists of such experience and expertise that they could handle most issues that arose within their Texas dentist’s offices. But men like this were few and far between and it wasn’t easy differentiating between the good dentists in Texas and the bad.

Even considering the risks of getting dental care from someone who was inexperienced or dishonest, people would still visit the dentist’s office because they were in pain and had no choice. Tooth problems couldn’t wait. Abscesses, broken teeth, wisdom teeth, and jaw infections can cause such intense pain that people would do anything for some relief, even if it meant getting the local blacksmith to pull out the sore tooth with his heavy-duty tongs. No matter the risks, the pain would get so bad that people would have to take chances.

Thankfully, TX Dentists Have Improved Since the Wild West!

Luckily for us, dentists in Arlington, TX and other parts of the western U.S. have come a long way since the Wild West era. It is difficult now to appreciate how tough life could be on the frontier, but at least we can imagine those difficulties from the safety of a modern dentist’s office while getting care from a properly educated and experienced dentist. If you’d like to enjoy the benefits of modern dentistry, contact our Dallas, TX dentist office and schedule a mouth makeover!

Dr. Miller

About WILLIAM MILLER

Dr. William H. Miller, D.M.D. has been practicing dentistry in Texas since 1985. For over 30 years, he has had a passion for personalized, quality care dentistry. He has been in the DFW area his entire career and is conveniently located on Walnut Hill Lane across from Presbyterian Hospital in North Dallas. His office offers a wide range of dental services that include crowns, bridges, implant services, dentures, root canals, fillings, cosmetic dentistry and other restorative procedures. [more]

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