From the archives of Sault Ste. Mary Public Library:
How does it feel to see a dentist? No matter how anxious you are about going to the dentist, you can be sure that your visit today will be a far less painful experience compared to the 19th century!
For those who lived in Algoma in the 1800s, dental care may not be the top priority for many residents, and unless they have a toothache, they are unlikely to seek any help.
The general treatment of this disease is extremely painful, so people have to weigh the balance between the pain of toothache and the pain of treatment! Most dental traditions are derived from the French "bloodletting and tooth extraction" method.
"Dentists" in the early to mid-1800s were unable to extract teeth until they were loose enough to be grasped. Without using special tools for this purpose, put the patient in a bucket of water and use a chisel to split the affected molars! In order to kill the nerves in the teeth, a small piece of hot iron is then applied to the teeth.
Generally speaking, after this "treatment" is completed, the pain will disappear within a few hours. In a few days, the patient will come back, and the tooth is loose and ready to be extracted! We can't even imagine how painful this approach will be.
After following these treatments, many people understand that dentistry needs to be supervised and needs training on proper dental care methods.
On March 4, 1868, a bill to create world history was passed. This is the first bill to regulate dentistry in the world. The wording of this new law states that “persons engaged in dental work are required to review their qualifications by the competent committee.”
The Royal College of Dentistry (RCDS) was established, and the first dental school was opened. It consists of a classroom and an infirmary. The course lasted for four months, followed by a two-year apprenticeship with a tuition of $100. Soon, it was affiliated with the University of Toronto, and the course of study was extended to three years.
With this formal dental training now standard, Sault Ste. Mary is looking forward to finding a dentist to open a clinic here. Dr. JA Shannon graduated as a dentist with formal training in 1888.
After graduation, he began to practice in Southern Ontario in Darton, Ontario, and then moved to Sault Ste. Mary became one of the first dentists to practice here in 1895.
His mother was a member of the famous Adams family, and his uncle, Dr. William Adams, was a doctor practicing here, so with this family relationship, he was encouraged to come to Su Sheng. Mary. He built a new home at 659 Queen Street East opposite the Leland Hotel, and then opened a dental clinic in his home.
Dr. Shannon and his wife have four children, and his daughter Marion Shannon lived in this house until the early 1970s. Dr. Shannon became an active member of his new community. From 1917 to 1946, he served on the city council, the school board, the Young Women's Christian Association, the Central United Church, and the chairman of PUC. By the time he died in 1946, he had witnessed the arrival of more dentists and established practices, including his own son, Dr. George Shannon, who joined him in 1919.
With more and more dentists practicing in the city, the methods of treating dental problems have definitely improved over the years, and visiting a dentist is usually not scary these days. As we now know, preventing dental problems starts with nutrition and proper brushing and cleaning of teeth.
In 1984, local dentist Dr. Terry Kearns brought back the appearance of the dentist's office in the first half of the 20th century.
During a visit to Toronto, a friend mentioned that she stored her father's dental office equipment in her basement and was looking for someone who was interested in buying it. Her father, Dr. Joseph Dietrich, graduated in 1922 and then worked for 54 years.
Dr. Carnes decides to bring the antique equipment back to Souter. When he moved the clinic to Churchill Square in 1983, he was able to work with local architect Perry Short to design a special space in his new office to showcase this antique dentist's office!
The exhibits include hydraulic operating chairs from 1908, pedal-powered dental treatment tables from 1915, and old-fashioned X-ray and disinfection equipment from the mid-1930s.
A picture of Dr. Dietrich’s graduating class in 1922 is prominently displayed on the wall. For many elderly people, this display may remind them of their earliest experience of going to the dentist.
With the advent of electric drills and recent advancements, going to the dentist is no longer a scary thing. Fortunately, anyone of our recent visits to the dentist's office is unlikely to encounter a chisel as one of the tools used in dental treatment!
Every week, Su Sheng. The Mary Public Library and its archives provide SooToday readers with a glimpse of the city's past.
Learn more about what public libraries must provide on www.ssmpl.ca and look for more "remember this"? Listed here