Sore point: Ancient Remedies For Toothache Often Worse Than The Pain

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If you found a live frog in your mouth in 19th or 20th century Ireland, it probably wasn’t a kiss attempt gone awry. You were just probably trying to draw out its healing powers to cure a toothache.

If that didn’t work, you could try sucking on cloves. Or drinking water from the Holy Well. There was also the option of taking a tooth from a corpse.

These cures are among the many found in new research by Dr. Carol Barron of DCU’s school of nursing and human sciences and her research assistant, Tiziana Soverino, published in the Journal of the History of Dentistry.

Over 400 of the cures addressed in the folklore were for treatment of an aching tooth. They were categorized into plant and mineral, quasi-medical and magico-religious cures.

Other cures were slightly more quotidian than the frog method. Salt and water were two of the most widely used curative substances. Potatoes were kept in pockets acting as an amulet to ward off a toothache, and infected teeth were often packed with tobacco.

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