Posted tagged ‘Grace Kelly’

Nothing but the tooth

September 26, 2013

“You don’t have to brush your teeth – just the ones you want to keep.”Author Unknown

One of the wonders of the modern age is your friendly, neighbourhood dentist. Hygiene is of paramount importance in any medical field and the dentistry profession prides itself in its cleanliness. It doesn’t boast to others by saying “eat your heart out” it prefers to say “clean your mouth out”. And who can resist a minty, fresh breath? I am surprised there isn’t an addiction clinic for Mouthwash Substance Abusers, though maybe it’s only me. I repeat, who can resist a minty, fresh breath?

It’s good to have teeth to go with the salubrious air that expels from my mouth and handily, dentists will only extract a tooth as a last resort. The man with the slaughterhouse overalls will perform miracles to save the enamel from being lost. They’ll scrape it, drill it, polish it, fill it, bridge it, paint it, patch it, glue it, stitch it, bandage it, physiotherapy it, walking stick it, they’ll go the full mile to get that tooth back on its feet again. I cannot speak highly enough of these warriors of the gums. I toast them every night with a litre of cola.

One of the horrors of the modern age or any age for that matter is the pain of toothache. Before the tooth healers were born there were only tooth fairies and extreme measures for combating the pain. A much derided technique though very popular involved tying a piece of string to the aching tooth and the other end to the door handle of an ajar door. Bang! On slamming the door there will be blood and hopefully, the offending gnasher will be left hanging from the neck of the string. This capital punishment served the tooth right though it seems to be outlawed in most civilised countries.

Going further back the ancient Egyptians might have been ahead of the times with the pyramids and the Rosetta Stone and stuff like that, their toothache cures were a dog’s, no make that, cat’s dinner. They advised that a mouse should be killed and applied immediately to the offending tooth. Apparently, there were healing properties in the dead mouse. I’m not buying that. Shut your trap. Shut your mouse trap.

Pliny the Elder, whose 37-volume Natural History served as the basis for scientific knowledge for centuries, believed curing toothache was a simple process as easy as making potato scones. First off, you need a full moon and a frog. Full moon, frog, frog, full moon- to paraphrase Tommy Cooper’s spoon/jar routine. Next up open the frog’s mouth, spit into it and say “Frog, do me a giant favour, and take my toothache with thee!”. Make sure to say thee! Pliny’s cure promises that the pain will put its hat and boots on, jump on the nearest horse and leave town, riding into the sunset. Pliny was just an old gunslinger at heart.

Animals seem to figure in most of the ancient remedies: worms, rabbits, spider’s eggs. The toad, in particular, was favoured in many cultures. It was believed that by licking a toad’s belly the pain would disappear. This instant release would be commendable if they weren’t so many ugly toads hopping about. Being quite fussy I’d insist on licking a good-looking toad. This lick could cure the pain and have a secondary result. I might free the toad from the wicked spell it is under and it could turn into a beautiful Princess.