Tooth Drawers

“A trumpet blares calling the rabble to gather beofre a stage in the marketplace. On the raised platform, a chattering monkey surveys the throng from beneath a parosol while a juggler performs tricks and recites ribald jokes, warming up the assembly, Now the juggler retires, the music stops, and a commanding figure bolts onto the stage dressed in a magnificent plumed hat and rich tunic, a neck-lace of huuman teeth strung about his neck. Soon his boastful oration has lured a recalcitracnt toothaches sufferer to the stage. It is over in a moment. The troublesome tooth is out, quickly and painlessly. The volunteer look on, stunned, as the tooth-drawer holds the tooth aloft for the crowds delecation. Now more of the orally holds afflicted press forward to submit to the tooth drawers ministrations. It is unlikely those lining up will have as unpainful an experience as the confederate who jsut pretended to have his tooth drawn. but the blare of horn and beating of drum will drown out their cries. And by the time sespis sets in or other life-threatening complications arising from the tooth-drawers incompetence present themselves, the charlatan will be long gone.”

The medieval dentist travelled from town to town as a sort of performance artist working at markets and fairs. He attracted his crowd by reading stories, singing and juggling. Often the dentists assistant would be dressed like a jester or harlequin with a pointed hat on which there would be an insignia of St. Apollonia. Alot of tooth pullers used music to attract the crown but more importantly drown out the sound of the patient screaming. It appears that if a tooth puller could extract a tooth smoothly then there would be no shortage of volunteers. This may be the reason why tooth pullers often had a plant in the crowd who they would fake an extraction with.

In several paintings of tooth drawers the victim or patient also appears to be being robbed by the dentists assistant. Tooth drawers are depicted as lowly people who took advantage of the suffereres in towns and villages.

There is an interesting link between Pierre Fachard and his goal to eradicate the profession of tooth drawers. There is also a link between St.Apollonia and tooth drawers as their assistants wore the symbol for St.Apollonia.

http://www.nature.com/bdj/journal/v191/n10/full/4801237a.html

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1447382/

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