I once found a lost book in the refrigerator.

I lose myself all the time. Or rather — I get lost. If I am meandering around out of town, I’m going to get lost. It’s what I do.

Got lost yesterday when I had to go up into big, bad Memphis to get an upper denture replaced — which I had lost two weeks prior. Unfortunately, I did not find it in the refrigerator.

All turned out well when a good samaritian at a convenience store gave me directions to get back on track.

I’ve had a checkered history involving dentist visits. Have you ever lived through serious dental surgery? A root canal? Stepped on a rusty nail and had to pull it out? Same difference. 

Dentists are heaven-sent and God love ‘em. But messin’ wit de toofies is just a nightmare for some of us. If you can get over that gigantic needle he hides behind his back and sneaks into your mouth there’s still a lot to face. And I can do the needle. I’ve got that handled. I just close my eyes really tight and clench my jaws in lockdown mode ‘til the assistant pries open the oral cavity.

My best bad dental visit was when I was sent to an oral surgeon in big, bad Memphis and they laid me down on a comfy bed and put this tiny little needle in my arm and said “good night.” When I woke up, all was done. ‘Course, my son had to duck-walk me to his car with my arm around his neck and giggling all the way. He was not real amused when I tried to tickle him as I stumbled along hanging onto him.

My worst bad dental visit was when I had to have a root canal. Yeah, he numbed me up with that horse needle hidden behind his back.  Once he drilled out the offending tooth he stuck something else in my mouth. All of a sudden, he jerked out the offending nerve. 

I did not know this, but you can scream with your mouth full of gauze and instruments and suctions and other stuff. You can also kick real high from a prone position with both feet. 

After all that, the blasted thing didn’t take. It crumbled and finally had to be extracted. My luck.

What really makes me thankful for these modern day men of science (despite some discomfort) is a look back into the history of dentistry.

Can you imagine having a bad toothache a couple hundred years ago? What if you were born with bad teeth genes. Yeow.

Dentistry got its start in the Indus Valley of India and Pakistan. These industrious would-be dentists were master bead makers who used bow drills to cure tooth problems. This is also the first appearance of dental assistants, whose duties consisted of restraining the flailing arms and legs of patients during the undoubtedly excruciating procedures. Still, this obviously beat a life without teeth. (Ya really think?)

A Sumerian text from 5,000 BC cites teeth worms as the source of dental decay. Evidence of this belief has also been found in ancient China, India, Japan and Egypt in the writings of Homer. 

In the 18th century BC, the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi made two references to dental extraction as a form of punishment. Bet they didn’t get them drunk first either.

Had I lived in this age I would have been a very, very good girl.

Get this — early tooth replacement took place in Phoenicia, now Lebanon, as missing teeth were replaced with animal teeth and bound in place using cord. Maybe this was the origin of the Dracula legend. Somebody had wolf’s teeth strapped in and smiled a lot.

Between 500 and 300 BC, both Hippocrates and Aristotle wrote about dentistry and about using forceps and using wires to stabilize loose teeth and broken jaws.

In China as early as 200 BC there is evidence of the use of silver amalgam as fillings.

During the middle ages in Europe, monks were primarily the “dentists” of the country. The church council, however, declared that monks could no longer practice dentistry, since it involved the shedding of blood — lots and lots of blood.

And guess who stepped up to the plate? Yea. The barbers. Oh yeah, because they were skilled with sharp knives. In 1210, France eventually differentiated surgeons who were trained to perform complex surgical operations from barber-surgeons who performed more routine services, including cleaning and tooth extraction.

An American Horace Wells discovered nitrous oxide.  (A marvelous discovery).  In 1905, German Alfred Einhorn developed Novocain. 

We should declare a National Holiday for these two men. Let’s make them saints — well, at least deacons.

DALE LILLY  aka The Gilded Lilly, is Lifestyles Editor and can be reached at 662-429-6397 ext. 248 or lifestyles@desototimes.com.

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