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In the 17th century, toothache was believed to be caused by toothworms, which lived in the afflicted tooth. While remedies existed to treat the pain, if the tooth needed extracting a patient would need to see a barber surgeon.

For pain relief

"Take a crude Opium, an ounce; Saffron, half an ounce; Cloves and Cinnamon, each half a dram; Spanish white wine, ten ounces; draw a tincture, with moderate heat in Bain Marie and [filter] it.  "from the Pharmacopeia Edinburgensis, Wellcome Collection. 

A woman with toothache. Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

Applying a plant under the chin

"Take a [pretty] quantitie of Staggwort (Ragweed), bruise the green therof well in your hand and Lay a good quantitie of the same under your chin and Jaws and soften it well and change it in twelve or twentie four hours as you find occasion. " from the Women's Recipe Book.

Writing the pain away

Written charms to cure toothache were common in the Highlands. This charm was signed by a woman named Jessy McKenzie, who was the wife of a gamekeeper at Garve in Ross-shire. It was given to a domestic servant in Dingwall in 1869 (H.NO 19). The charm was probably folded up and worn by the sufferer at all times.

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