Toothaches and death.

J. H. Clarke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Deaths from dental abscesses today are so rare, that it is difficult to fathom that only 200 years ago, this was a leading cause of death. When the London (England) Bills of Mortality began listing the causes of death in the early 1600's, "teeth" were continually listed as the fifth or sixth leading cause of death. (This does not include the category of "Teething" which was probably erroneously blamed for many children's deaths. As we examine several historic factors of this period, it is apparent that the number of deaths attributed to "teeth" in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was probably fairly accurate, and it was not antibiotics, nor the discovery of asepsis, that brought about the dramatic reduction in these dental mortalities, but two much earlier dental innovations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11-13
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of the history of dentistry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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