During the 1920s, dentistry underwent a paradigm shift with the introduction of dental drilling; a method which enabled the removal of tooth decay without the requirement of extraction. This novel approach resulted in improved oral health for many patients due to the preservation of their natural teeth. What sparked this alteration and did dentists during this period resort to analgesics to alleviate patient agony?
Before the Roaring Twenties, extraction was the go-to solution for dentists dealing with tooth decay. Without a way to proficiently extract the deterioration, removal of the affected tooth was the only feasible treatment. Unfortunate for those in need of such care, anaesthetics had yet to be perfected, making the procedure a far-from-enjoyable experience.
A revolution in the dental sphere was initiated with the advent of the dental drill, a landmark invention made by George F. Green in the roaring twenties. This device rotated a bit at an accelerated rate which enabled dentists to cut through enamel and take out decayed matter without having no other option but pulling out teeth entirely. This represented a remarkable progress for the field of dentistry, which paved the way towards keeping teeth and bolstering patients’ oral wellbeing.
Although the dental drill was revolutionary, it had its downside. Patients often experienced pain and discomfort due to the high-velocity spinning of the bit, generating heat that was uncomfortable or even agonizing. As a result, dentists in the 1920s made efforts to reduce the torture of dental drilling.
Back in the roaring twenties, dentists had acquired a trick to better handle the ceaseless suffering endured by their patients during dental drilling. They would employ local anaesthetics to block off the tremoring nerve endings and pacify the taste of pain. Cocaine, Novocaine were the prime contenders behind providing a layer of indistinctness that ensured a smoother workflow for the dental experts while diminishing suffering of those undergoing the agony of drilling.
During the 1920s, dentists had two methods of making their patients more comfortable during dental drilling. In addition to utilizing local anaesthetics, they would also sometimes utilize painkillers and sedatives including morphine, codeine, and related opiates. Nevertheless, because of the habit-forming nature of these substances, they were only used sparingly and when a patient’s pain was deemed to be overly unbearable.
As a result of the 1920s invention of dental drilling, dentistry underwent a radical shift in terms of how cavities were treated. Beforehand, extraction was the only option – but the concept of drilling out decay ushered in a new era in oral hygiene. Of course, this innovative technique was not necessarily painless; dentists of that time had to explore options for minimizing any accompanying discomfort. To this end, they occasionally administered anesthetics and painkillers to their patients, although people were warned against becoming addicted to them. Ultimately, dental drilling paved the way for profound progress in the industry.
Taking a trip back to 1920 brings us to a very different dental experience than we’re used to today. Pain relief was hard to come by and the rudimentary drill did not offer much reprieve. But what was it like having your cavity filled during that era?
At the beginning of the 1920s, power drills confined to unwieldy hand motions, quickly consisting of an annoying rhythm of cranking. Far from being a 21st century advancement, these surges of primitive technology had crudely machined drill bits going at a painstakingly slow pace and unable to penetrate the tougher sections of teeth; leading to protracted, painful procedures for patients as the dentist had to laboriously take more time drilling down even further.
For those seeking relief from pain, the alternatives were in short supply. Few dentists could administer anesthetics, forcing them to turn to more rudimentary treatments such as cloves, ethyl alcohol, and even the cocaine-based concoctions. Naturally, these solutions didn’t always succeed, leaving the patient stewing in their agony until the drilling was over.
Many dentists back in the era of no anesthetics managed to ease their patients’ pain-levels to some degree. An innovative method utilised was that of using a rubber dam to keep the area surrounding the tooth being worked on dry and saliva-free. This gave the temporarily respite from the torture inflicted by that dreaded drill.
To help negate some of the pain associated with dental procedures, many dentists have employed a savvy approach known as distraction. By having patients give their undivided attention to something else – like counting or crooning a tune – during the treatment process, their minds were better insulated from the nuisance of the drill. This enabled them to undergo the procedure with a great degree of ease.
In the 1920s, nitrous oxide, famously known as “laughing gas,” made an entrance into dentistry, offering anesthesia for dental treatments. Unfortunately, it was also highly costly and challenging to acquire, limiting its prevalence in the world of dentistry. As a result, many individuals still had no choice but to endure their procedures without any comfort or sentiment of relief.
In comparison to the dental drills used in the 1920s, modern ones present far greater comfort for patients during a dental visit. Back then, it was rare for dentists to utilize distractions and rubber dams to cushion the impact of drilling. As a result, many patients had to withstand drawn-out oral surgeries without anesthetic or any other relief. Fortunately, due to rapid advancements in dental technology and anesthesia, today’s practices pose significantly less distress for those receiving treatments.
Post time: 2023-07-09