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Inside This Issue
Reaping the Rewards of Hard Work PAGE 1
Apple Cider Chicken and Brussels Sprouts PAGE 3
Don’t Let These Scammers Steal Your Money PAGE 2 Welcome, New Patients! PAGE 2
The Good News PAGE 3
Get the Word Out! PAGE 3
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The Legend of the Tooth Worm One of Dentistry’s Strangest Myths
TURNING TO MAGIC AND RITUAL Before modern medical science, people turned to the supernatural to cure their dental issues. After all, the tooth worm was thought to be a semimagical being, so why not fight magic with magic? Some of the less graphic premodern treatments included trying to smoke the worm out by using honey to lure the worm out of the tooth or banishing the evil creature through ceremonial chants.
Toothaches are uncomfortable enough without getting slimy critters involved. However, for the majority of human history, “tooth worms” were believed to be the actual source of toothaches and other oral health issues. Where did this belief come from, why was it so pervasive across cultures, and how did the precursors to modern dentists treat the problem? The answers might surprise you. UNEARTHING THE WORM The first mention of a worm that fed on human teeth can be found in an ancient Babylonian cuneiform inscription. The tale depicts a conversation between a worm and Mesopotamian gods, in which the worm declares,“The blood of the tooth I will suck, and of the gum I will gnaw its roots!”While it is unclear if this inscription was the genesis of the myth, Babylon certainly wasn’t the only place it appeared. WORMING THROUGH HISTORY This hungry little worm appears again in Mayan legends, Sinhalese folk charms, and even 18th-century books on dentistry. How did so many cultures from around the world believe in the same pernicious little creature? One theory suggests premodern dentists removing dental crowns mistook the underlying nerve for the worm. However, more recent research from the University of Maryland Dental School has revealed “wormlike” structures inside molars that could have inspired the myth.
Today, we know tooth worms don’t exist, and our dentists won’t cast any magic
spells on you (we promise). However, every story has a nugget of truth: While much smaller
than worms, bacteria do feed on our tooth enamel. That’s why regular cleanings twice a year are important to keep your smile happy and healthy!
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