Like Pulling Teeth

Like Pulling Teeth


Any time my dad wants to express that something is really, really hard to accomplish, he always uses the expression, “It’s like pulling teeth to…” 

The only teeth I’ve ever had pulled are my baby teeth and some teeth pulled as part of my orthodontics work when I was a teenager.  I even still have all my wisdom teeth, in place and in use.  (Probably the only wisdom that I have.)  I do know that it’s like pulling teeth to pay all the “Mouth Bills” a large family has though. 

I’ve always done the bare minimum on my own dental care so I could pay for the rest of my family’s needs.  So when I go to the dentist, I always expect (and get) a long lecture about how this tooth and that tooth need crowns.  I have always politely told them to just repair it with a filling and I’ll get the crown latter.  Well it’s now much, much later and I have one molar that has been taunting me for all those dentists with, “I told you so, I told you so.” 

Fortunately, my Beautiful Wife’s new dental insurance is much better than mine was, I so this week I finally got that long awaited crown on my tender tooth.  And now that my bite feels as good as my bark again, I wonder how they must have gotten along in yesteryear.

My family history tells me a little bit about it.  My 2 greats grandpa, Samuel Webster, had dental forceps.  Folks came from the area to have him pull their teeth.  Now Samuel was a coal miner turned farmer, not a dentist.  Back in the late 1800’s when he was pulling teeth, dental forceps were a relatively new innovation.  I’ve seen pictures of the dental pelican which preceded the dental key.  The sight of either of these tooth extraction tools would have inspired me to live with the tender tooth a lot longer.  These must have been the tools that famed American, Paul Revere, used when he advertised as a dentist back in 1768. 

And then there are the poor folks who had no one to pull the bad tooth at all.  I read one such story of a pioneer family crossing the plains in 1857.  A twelve year old boy had a tooth ache and there was nothing he could do about it but suffer.  At least that’s what everyone told him.  Necessity is a great motivator. And this boy was motivated to get that bad tooth out. 

He decided to pack the large hole in the tooth with gunpowder.  As he was doing it, his father told him, “You had better not do it.  No good can come from it.”  But the painful tooth ache was making him crazy.  Crazy enough to actually light the powder in his mouth.  His family stood and watched in shock as his mouth lit up like a muzzle loader.  The decayed tooth popped out and all was well on the trail once again.

What my ancestors wouldn’t have given to have the fine dental care that I take for granted.  My mouth is happy again I didn’t even have to lose the tooth.  But then again, if my ancestors heard how much my repaired tooth costs, they would probably happily resort to gun powder and tools that look like pelican beaks.             

22 thoughts on “Like Pulling Teeth”

  1. I am forever thankful of all the modern medicines and doctors and technique we have available to us now.  I can’t imagine having to live with pain like so many did of yester year.  I’m so afraid of pain that I don’t know how I could have dealt with a bad tooth… and the idea of gun powder in my mouth…. wow….   I would much rather pay the bill of today and have it taken care of….. great blog.  And of course… I’m glad YOUR tooth is feeling better finally. 

  2. Good on you for having that nasty tooth, taken care of! My teeth are in pretty good shape but then again, I only have two kids,(LOL)! My parents didn’t fare so well, they both had dentures by the time they were in their early forties, no dental plan,(LOL)! Take care, my friend,

  3. your stories bring back bad memories from the late 50’s when I was a senior in high school.
    I saw a dentist once a week for a long time and never had a shot to numb the pain.
    Just thinking about it brings back the dread. bye bye to the good ole days.
    Have a great day

    What a wonderful story, Ron–thank you for sharing it.
    I understand the necessity of putting our children’s needs ahead of our own at times. When my three sons were small, we were living on a very tight budget. In the wintertime, I always made sure they had the best snow boots we could afford and went without them myself. It was no real sacrifice; I simply pulled on an extra pair of sox and my toes stayed nice and toasty. The boys are now grown and gone and, to this day, I still don’t have snow boots and don’t miss them for a moment.
    Regarding dental matters, I experienced a deep depression several years ago and stopped taking proper care of myself, including my teeth. Thanks to decent dental insurance I will be able to undo most of the damage wrought by my neglect of myself, but I still feel badly that I didn’t take care of the body God gave me. I suppose that some lessons are best learned the hard way…
    Before I go, I want to tell you how important your stories are: you tell of the resourcefulness and character which are wonderful qualities in people. When difficult circumstances present themselves, all it takes is a quick-thinking man or woman with the ability to improvise or just plain common sense, and a solution may be found for nearly any problem. Thank you for reminding us of those people. They still teach us so much through your stories.

  5. You can see my "gallery" any time you want.  Give me 5 minutes warning, though, so I can get the art out from various drawers, pull them out from behind dressers, and remove the them from under that pile of books, ha ha ha.  Gunpowder in your mouth, huh?  And to light it yourself?  That just goes to show that chronic severe pain will drive you insane.  He must have had some powerful guardian angels to protect him from himself.  He could have blown his whole jaw off!  Yikes.

  6. Great story Ron!  I know exactly how you feel.  I let my teeth go for a long time for the kids sake.  It seems like the last 30 or so years, life has been one constant payment to the dentist.  Just like the house payment or the car payment, we had a monthly dentist payment.  My parents also had dentures from their early years.  BTW, I opened up the hives to check on the bees, and they are alive.  🙂 Kent

  7. I sure shy away from opening my mouth in front of any doc 🙂 In this blog of mine, I drop in clues about a blogger for visitors to identify…so they get to do the deep thinking. Here’s wishing u no further teething troubles…and yes, have a great weekend!

  8. Hi Ron,
    I’ve had toothaches and I can relate to doing whatever it takes to get rid of the pain! I once read that the reason all those old photos of people back in the day have non smiling faces is because their teeth were usually in bad shape and not attractive so they wouldn’t smile for the picture.

  9. Hi Ron,
    Thank you for the kind comment.  We really do appreciate your thoughts and prayers.  It helps with this roller coaster ride.
    I am so thankful for good dental care…   🙂

  10. LOL
    Toothache is really a trouble,which could lead to illness.
    My parent just told me not to eat too much sweet and brush twice a day.
    I am sure good habbit could give us  healthy tooth : )
    take care .

  11. Glad you got the teeth fixed.  I spent years hurting from all that but I think now I’m finally all okay with my teeth.  Yes, you are a wordsmith.  I could have used some of that in my college days.  I struggled to make my thoughts make sense and still do today.

    Hi, Ron!
    Just stopping by to touch base and see what’s going on in your corner of the world.
    I hope you and your family are keeping busy, happy and healthy!
    Let’s see an update very soon, please?
    Miss you.

    I’m baaaack!
    Life must be keeping you very busy, Ron; I hope all is well with you and your family and that work is going smoothly.
    Hopefully you will have time to sit down and tap off a few lines to bring your Spaces friends up-to-speed on your news.
    I miss your stories; more soon???

  14. What a well-told and engrossing blog entry, Ron!  Hope all is as well as can possibly be for you, your wonderful household and grown "children" and their kids, your job amongst the unborn chickens, your LDS family, and otherwise.
    A friend who’s distant geographically but not spiritually,


  16. My heart is heavy for you all tonight.  I hope you all are ok.  Please know I’m thinking of you and Mitchowl. 

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