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Official Sesquicentennial K-12 Education Project
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Life On The Trail

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Dentistry, 1864, "Do it yourself!" (Duckworth Grimshaw, age 22)

Do it Yourself Dentistry, 1864, Duckworth Grimshaw

That fall [1864] I suffered terribly from toothaches, and as there was no dentist there I went through a lot of pain. One day in desperation, I got a big spike nail and a hammer and handed them to Father and told him to knock the tooth out. I laid my head on a log in the stable which had been cut for a window. Father took aim and just touched it then shuck it a hard blow, knocking half of it out. I told him to give it another blow. However, in taking aim he did touch it lightly then gave it another blow which knocked the other half out and the task was completed.

On another occasion, when the pain was so bad I could not endure it, and as there was no one around to extract the tooth, I decided to rid myself of it. The tooth was hollow shell so I rolled some gunpowder in some cotton and placed it in my mouth, and got a match. My folks were fearful and warned me that I might receive real damage from this procedure, but at the time it seemed to make little difference to me. When I struck the match and put it to the cotton, there was a little hissing sound and the tooth was split in four pieces and came out without any trouble.

Source: Our Pioneer Heritage © Carter, Kate B., ed. 20 vols. Salt Lake City: International Society, Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1958-1977. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced in any form or by any means without permission in writing from the publisher. Documents and images are exerpted by permission from the LDS Family History Suite CDROM from Ancestry.