5 Facts About 19th Century Dentistry That Bridgerton Conveniently Leaves Out

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If you haven’t yet watched the first season of Bridgerton on Netflix, then what are you, some kind of Featherington? Haha that’s a Bridgerton joke, the type that us “Bridgies” go wild for. 

Seriously, if you haven’t seen the show, you’re missing out on some serious period piece drama. Though, as much as we love the show here at Molar Media Mount, we can’t help but notice it’s not entirely on point with its historical accuracy. 

We’re talking, of course, about the lack of dental horror stories in the first season.

You see, even though crucial plot points revolve around bare-knuckle boxing and fistfights in gentleman’s clubs, there is exactly zero dental action in the show—an oversight we’re sure you find equally galling. 

In case you were unaware, the 19th century was not a great time for teeth. Dentistry was still in its infancy, and no one really knew how to treat infections or other illnesses. A lot of progress was being made, but it’s hard to call a time when a dentist’s tools would probably consist of a hand-powered drill and a big pair of pliers a golden age of science and medicine. 

That being the case, we went digging for some of the hot, steamy 1800s dentistry tidbits that the Bridgerton writers decided to leave in their first drafts. 

1. “Dentists” were often just blacksmiths or barbers. These moonlighting “surgeons” operated without modern standards of cleanliness, and thousands of people died from infection after their work was done. In fact, the first dental college in the world didn’t open until 1840.

2. Extraction was pretty much the only remedy. Tooth decay? Extraction. Toothache? Let’s yank it. Sore jaw? Let’s get several. They were doing what they could, but the fixation with pulling teeth in the 19th century definitely plays into the ongoing trope of the dentist’s office as a chamber of horrors. 

3. Anesthetic was still in its infancy. Nitrous oxide and the more powerful ether both came into use in the mid-1800s, but weren’t widespread until much later in the century. Fun Fact: One of the first experiments with ether was considered a failure after the patient cried out during surgery. Heuristic for a good anesthetic: the patient does not yell, “Hey, I can feel this!” after it’s been administered. 

4. Toothbrushes were made from animal hair. While sometimes it was horsehair, it was often pig bristles

5. Jane Austen hated it. Nuf said. 

Fortunately, modern day dentistry has figured out anesthetic and the pliers have gotten, like, way better. Even more exciting, dentists now have entertainment options to offer their patients - like the Molar Media Mount, which allows patients to watch their favorite shows (Bridgerton!) during their visit. Simply pop the Mount onto your existing dental light and you’ve got a maneuverable attachment that can handle an iPad Air, iPad mini, Kindle Fire HD, or any other similar sized tablet. 

Then just press play. You can start warming up the drill while they’re distracted. 

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