The 29 Worst Medieval Hygiene Practices

There’s a lot about modern life we take for granted. When was the last time you gave thanks that your dentist doesn’t think you have worms in your teeth? Or for being able to go to the bathroom indoors? These real-life medieval hygiene habits from yesteryear are many shades of “yech.”

1. Dentists thought toothaches were caused by worms

Before oral hygiene was well understood, physicians commonly believed that toothaches were caused by worms that lived inside the teeth.

• Thankfully, there are no actual tooth worms

If you complained of aching teeth in the 15th Century, a physician would fill your mouth with candle smoke to drive the nonexistent worms from within them.

The belief in tooth worms probably stemmed from physicians observing a tooth’s exposed nerve after the tooth was pulled. To the uninitiated, it could look very much like a worm dangling from the bottom of the tooth.

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