Appalachia Medicinal Remedies

Modern Dentistry

Toothache remedies and folklore in appalachia

“Thank the good Lord for modern dentistry! When my mom was a little girl she had a relative, Reinhold Hoffman, who had a bunch of sons – 9 or 10.  One of them was away from home studying dentistry. When he would come home to visit he would come out to their farm and set up a chair on the front porch. Just about the whole community would turn out to get their teeth worked on. Mom remembers the drill running until it would get too hot and have to cool off. Lots of teeth were pulled on that porch. No Novocaine, just hang on for dear life! Although the drilling wasn’t a pleasant memory, mom fondly remembers the plaster cast teeth models her dentist cousin gave her. Every time a chicken would die she would hold a funeral with her sister and brothers and lay the chicken to rest under a perfect little tooth tombstone.

—Mary Rutherford 2016

Over the years I’ve written a few posts that make me feel thankful for modern dentistry too. Here’s a few of them:

Here’s the link to the video I published last night: Mountain Path.


Subscribe for FREE and get a daily dose of Appalachia in your inbox

You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    David Baker
    January 1, 2022 at 1:10 pm

    I’ve always been told if you carry the rock out of a hogs head, you won’t get a toothache?

  • Reply
    Dennis M Morgan
    August 22, 2021 at 9:14 pm

    I have had a “baby tooth” pulled by having the end of a string tied around the tooth and the other end tied to a door knob. When the door was slammed the tooth would come out – this is not a joke. Of course the tooth was so loose that it came right out.

  • Reply
    August 22, 2021 at 11:23 am

    I think to many people like going to the Dentist. I use to be so scared but I have a good Dentist. He will numb you and ask are you numb enough and if you feel anything, he will do a little more. I only had to be done like that 1 time. My youngest grandson had a real bad experience with them. I felt so sorry for him. My oldest daughter, that’s what she’s doing. She is in the Dentistry. She a dentist Assistant. She works at this one but she’s starting another job closer to home in another wk. That’s what she always wanted to do.

  • Reply
    Denise R
    August 21, 2021 at 7:01 pm

    I dreaded going to the dentist as a kid from the age of 4 or 5 until I was about 14 years old and that was when we switched to a different dentist where I grew up. My dad used to say that the one we originally went to was pretty sadistic and seemed to take pleasure is hurting people. Our new dentist was way more gentle and had a much better personality. but needless to say my first experiences traumatized me and I was terrified. The dentist I see now I’ve been with for 32 years. One of his first questions was if I had ever had bad experiences going to the dentist, so I filled him in. He was disturbed by what had happened to me when I was little. He takes his time and explains what he is doing and he goes above and beyond to make it as pain free as possible. So for me the fear has definitely subsided, but as an adult I will not allow anyone to cause the pain that I dealt with as a kid.

  • Reply
    Donald Wells
    August 21, 2021 at 12:55 pm

    Remote Area Medical (R.A.M.) is a well known organization that helps people that can’t afford dental work, eye care,and most all medical issues. I’m thankful for that, no doubt keeps alot of folks for suffering. My Uncle Arlie pulled his own teeth with a pair of pliers,must have gotten pretty good at it, didn’t have a tooth in his head LOL.All joking aside, a toothache is very painful and going to a Dentist can be very frightening,but Thank The Lord for Modern Dentistry.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    August 21, 2021 at 11:45 am

    I have very pretty teeth. The problem is they are in my kids’ mouths. Both of them had to have extensive orthodontist work done. Both ended up with beautiful smiles. Me, I look like a jack-o-lantern.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    August 21, 2021 at 8:22 am

    My Dad pulled some of our baby teeth with heated wire pliers. A mouthful of warm pliers is not fun but it worked. As an adult I have had three teeth pulled and each experience was better than wire pliers. But still if I have something to do I dread I may say about it, “I’d rather go to the denist.” Not very fair to them.

    About the soft teeth, most of Appalachia is lacking in basic minerals such as calcium that build bones and teeth because of the chemistry of the rocks and soil. There just isn’t much source in nature.

  • Reply
    Linda Jones
    August 21, 2021 at 7:44 am

    My grandmother always said “if the cows are laying down, it’s a bad day for fishing”. Have you heard this?

    • Reply
      August 21, 2021 at 10:32 am

      Linda-I don’t think I’ve heard that one. Thank you for sharing it with me!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    August 21, 2021 at 7:18 am

    To this day I still dread going to the dentist. When I was a child I had what they called soft teeth meaning I got cavaties easily. I hated going to the dentist. My parents used to tell the story of an incident when taking me to the dentist…I refused to go into the office so they picked me up to carry me in and I managed to get one foot on on each side of the door frame and they couldn’t get me through. When they finally got me into the office the dentist said, ” I would not touch that child when she is so upset.” That tells you every thing about my relationship with the dentist. Poor man and poor child!
    To this day I get nervous when I go to the dentist, though it’s been a long time since my childhood bad experiences

  • Reply
    Ray Presley
    August 21, 2021 at 7:03 am

    Our youngest granddaughter used to come for me when she had a tooth that was ready for pulling. I would sit her on the counter in the bathroom, tie a piece of dental floss on the tooth and start talking to her…. Of course, she trusted me completely, but she was still a bit apprensive…When I was ready to pull the tooth, I’d ask her what her favorite color was (I knew it was orange) and then just as she would start to say it, I would jerk down on the string. The tooth was out so quickly that she would be shocked. She still remembers those sessions and so do I.

  • Reply
    Don Byers
    August 21, 2021 at 6:51 am

    Typo…should have read ‘One of Kephart’s books I think.

  • Reply
    Don Byers
    August 21, 2021 at 6:50 am

    Have read about “tooth jumping”. On of the Kephart books I think.

  • Leave a Reply