I'm *NOT* making this up. This was the dentistry I received until the
1970s. When I got older and got a new dentist who gave me anesthetic, I
remember being amazed: Dentistry didn't have to be excruciatingly
painful after all! As a child, I had assumed that excruciating pain was
just the way dentistry was supposed to be.
Does any of this sound familiar to older folks here? Was anesthetic
only started in the 1960s, or did it exist before that? Did
old-fashioned dentists back then eschew anesthetic for their patients?
Anybody else here just forego anesthetic and accept the pain of drilling
as just part of the dentistry process?
Remove the NOSPAM before replying to me.
Some patients preffer drilling without anesthetic becouse they afraid
injection. We have many methods injection, local anesthetic,
different drilling methods, gas etc.
Everything depends on case, individual resistance and prefferencess.
regards kris Polanowski DDS
Here's my take. I am 56 years old, and never had a local anesthetic
for any dental treatment until I was in my 20s. I did not have a great
number of cavities as a child, but I had some.
Having primary (baby) teeth drilled seems to provoke less pain than
permanent teeth, so I do not remember any problems (I may have never had
cavities on my primary teeth though). When I had my first fillings in
my permanent teeth at about 6 years old, the dentist worked very
quickly. I should add that I was very fearful of injections as a
child--there is a chance that this was communicated to the dentist by my
parents--I don't know.
When I was about 8, we started using the dentist I would go to until I
got out of dental school. He obviously had taken some psychology
course, because though he still didn't inject me, he told me to raise my
hand if it became painful. However, unlike my dental professors maybe
15 years later, he apparently was NOT told to stop drilling when I
So there I was, madly waving my arm in his face, while he would say
"juuuuust anooooother minuuuuuute!!!" with dust flying out of my mouth,
and my head plastered back against the headrest. I should point out
that I was not a dumb kid--he was giving me a (false) measure of control
with one hand and taking it away with the other.
By the time I'd graduated dental school (1976) I had a pretty good idea
of what was going on. The '60s were called the "golden years" of
dentistry because with the baby boomers in school and eating all that
sugar, there was lots of work to do. And of course, the emphasis on
infection control and sterility was not what it was now. Maybe even
more important, the parents of these kids had grown up in the
depression. Many of the older dentists had too, and I was told that if
a patient came in with $3. in their pocket and you did $5. worth of
dentistry, you would often never see the other $2. So in order to get
everyone in, many dentists would see 30, 40, even 50 patients a day. My
mother had told me that when she was young she never had a tooth drilled
and a permanent filling placed at the same visit. Lots of temporary
fillings were placed.
You can imagine in this kind of environment, the big disadvantage of
giving an injection was that you had to wait for it to take effect. Not
only that, but at the time many dentists were really using Novocain
(procaine), which was a really crummy anesthetic. If you were doing a
longer procedure you'd often have to re-inject a few times--it wore off
Now, I can't imagine seeing that number of patients in a day. With
anesthesia and sterility requirements, it would never get done. Not
only that, but making fewer, longer visits allows treatment to proceed
much more quickly and efficiently, and is far less stressful and
time-consuming--for both the patient and the dental staff.
For my very first dental experiences, I don't remember getting a shot, and I
don't remember NOT getting a shot; that was a long-long time ago. Even back
then, I understood that a trip to the dentist was not pleasent, but hurt a lot
less than a good toothache. The dental experience was considerably different
back then. I remember the days before my dentist had a turbine drill. There
was much more vibration as he worked, but also much less heating.
I also remember that my youngest brother was a very difficult patient. For
me, I don't remember my parents even being in the treatment room, but my
youngest brother had to be physically restrained so the dentist could work, a
job for my father. The whole family used the same general dentist, we had never
heard of pediatric dentists back then. My father used to take along a wooden
clothspin to jam between my brother's sharp little teeth to protect the
Nothing personal, but if you are posting through Google Groups I may not receive
your message. Google refuses to control the flood of spam messages originating
in their system, so on any given day I may or may not have Google blocked. Try
a real NNTP server & news reader program and you will never go back. All you
need is access to an NNTP server (AKA "news server") and a news reader program.
You probably already have a news reader program in your computer (Hint: Outlook
Express). Assuming that your Usenet needs are modest, use
http://news.aioe.org/ for free and/or http://www.teranews.com/ for a one-time
$3.95 setup fee.
Will poofread for food.
> I distinctly remember that when I was a child (before puberty), circa
> 1960, my dentist *never* gave me Novocaine or any sort of anesthetic
> prior to starting the drilling....
> I'm *NOT* making this up. This was the dentistry I received until the
> 1970s. When I got older and got a new dentist who gave me anesthetic, I
> remember being amazed: Dentistry didn't have to be excruciatingly
> painful after all! As a child, I had assumed that excruciating pain was
> just the way dentistry was supposed to be.
I think the guy was just a sadist. I started having fillings when I was
perhaps 7 or 8, maybe earlier. I remember the shots hurting a lot, and
at some point I asked for NO novocaine/lidocaine, but rapidly changed my
mind. That was during the late 40s or early 50s.
> Does any of this sound familiar to older folks here? Was anesthetic
> only started in the 1960s, or did it exist before that? Did
> old-fashioned dentists back then eschew anesthetic for their patients?
> Anybody else here just forego anesthetic and accept the pain of drilling
> as just part of the dentistry process?
Not unless they think they have something to prove. My teeth are
sensitive such that even ordinary cleaning is unpleasant. Not just
unpleasant, PAINFUL. And even if the nerve is effectively knocked out,
if the drilling goes on long enough the heat is painful.
My f ck ng k yb rd h s l st ts v w ls.
After college, I delayed going to any dentist again until I broke a tooth in
the mid-70's and had to seek out a new dentist for a crown. Low and behold,
he gave me Novocain, and the process was not at all painful. When I
expressed my amazement, he looked at me oddly and said "It doesn't have to
hurt. If you enjoyed having it hurt, you'd be pretty strange, wouldn't
Since then I've encountered one dentist whose procedures consistently caused
me pain. He claimed he was "unable to get me numb." Needless to say, I don't
go to him any more, and my current dentist has no problem working on me
without causing me pain.
"Steven L." <sdli...@earthlink.net> wrote in message
I recall that question being answered when I was in dental school in
the late 1960s.
One professor had been a dentist in the Army during World War II. His
take on the anesthetic question was based on his personal experiences
right before and after the war. Before the war, anesthetic was
available, but during those Depression years many people had little
money to spend. People would often seek the cheapest possible
treatment, and anesthetic cost money, so they would do without.
Even during the Depression some people had money, so they would choose
to have the numbing effects of Novocain, but that was not a universal
This old professor's take was that when most of the dentists in the
country were drafted into the Army and Navy for the duration of the
war, they all had to learn to do things the same way (that's the armed
services for you). Their dental clinics provided anesthetic, so
anesthetic was used. Regulations were followed.
After the war, millions of servicemen had been treated painlessly by
dentists, so they expected that level of service. Of course not
everyone had been drafted, so a good portion of the population still
had dental treatment without anesthetic. It was mostly a matter of
But after a few years, the older dentists gradually retired -- and
their Depression-era habits retired with them. Many younger dentists
were former armed forces dentists who had the habit of using
anesthetic for most fillings, so they continued that practice into the
1950s and 1960s. As time went by, the use of anesthetic came to be
expected by the public and the profession both. At least, that was the
experience of that professor, who had practiced dentistry both before
and after the war.
By the time I was in dental school in the 1960's, there was no
question that anesthetic would be used routinely in dental treatment.
You're welcome. I hope you get that anesthetic routinely now!
He gives it more than he gets it.
Christopher A. Young
Learn more about Jesus
"Steven L." <sdli...@earthlink.net> wrote in message