Why do the Amish people pull their teeth? (Dental practices among the Amish)

Even though most of us dislike going to the dentist for fear of pain, we still keep our teeth in good health for as long as possible. For most of us, we do all that is possible to avoid losing even a single tooth, and thanks to advances in dentistry, dentures are a thing of the past, which is why it is quite puzzling to learn that some Amish people prefer to have their natural teeth removed and replaced with dentures. So, why do the Amish pull their teeth?

Some of the reasons given for why the Amish pull teeth include cost-effectiveness. It is said that the Amish object to the cost of dental maintenance and would rather have dentures to avoid it. The other reason is to keep away from the regular interaction with “English” that routine visits to a trained dentist would require. Although the measures seem drastic for the reasons given, one must remember that the Amish tend to avoid modern ways in favor of solutions that they can handle themselves.

Read on to find out more about this and the answers to questions such as, “Do Amish people have healthy teeth?” Does the Amish lifestyle influence their oral hygiene and dental health? Do Amish people replace all their teeth with dentures, and what’s special about pulling teeth among the Amish people?

Do Amish people have healthy teeth?

Some Amish people have healthy teeth that serve them with few problems throughout their lives. They seek the services of a dentist and, even if not regularly, try to maintain healthy and good-looking teeth.

A study done in 1985 involving Amish people in southwest Michigan seemed to suggest that they had healthier teeth than the general population in the United States. The study focused on recording periodontal health, dental caries experience, and oral hygiene status. The findings were reported to have shown significantly lower levels of these ailments among the Amish. It was then suggested that the lower levels of ailments in the community could be attributed to dietary patterns and ways of life. They were said to eat healthier meals and have less sugar in their food.

However, others have unhealthy teeth with many problems that lead to losing some or all of their teeth. Many Amish people do not get to see a dentist regularly, which seems to lead to many dental challenges in the community. Data collected from an Amish community in Ohio in 2011–12 suggests that Amish children have a slightly higher level of untreated tooth decay than children in other rural communities. In the sample group of 3- to 5-year-olds, caries prevalence was four times the national average. In this study, it was reported that the parents did not seem overly concerned about the preventive care of their children’s teeth.

From the foregoing, we can only conclude that the Amish people’s teeth are just like others: some have healthy teeth, while others are not so good. Although it seems easy to find examples of people who got dentures as teenagers in the community, the state of Amish people’s teeth seems to depend on the community or family that a person comes from.

Why do the Amish people pull their teeth?
Does the Amish lifestyle influence their oral hygiene and dental health? See below

Does the Amish lifestyle influence their oral hygiene and dental health?

Many lifestyle factors may influence Amish dental health and oral hygiene habits.

These include conservative rural traditions, a preference for natural remedies, a lack of exposure to modern oral health and dental care techniques, a sense of nervousness in high-tech settings, and challenges accessing dental health care. Some may also be less likely to visit dentists for preventive care because of convenience and cost reasons. The distance to a qualified dentist, including repeat visits, may seem altogether impractical and expensive, given the isolated reality of some of these communities.

Oral hygiene practices vary from family to family. For instance, some non-Amish health practitioners who regularly visit the communities have been quoted as stating that a toothbrush is rare in some households. And just like in the general rural population, few use dental floss.

Unlike non-Amish people, the Amish are less likely to seek dental attention for toothaches and/or gum disease and are more likely to use home remedies. The Amish are said to have the propensity to be self-reliant within their communities. Members frequently seek the services of local but untrained dentists who use crude tools such as pliers and hand drills to perform elective tooth extractions or the removal of problem teeth. The dentures are said to be “Amish” made.

When problems arise, it may be easier and less expensive to extract decayed teeth than to attempt to fix them. As a result, it is not uncommon for some Amish people, even young people, to wear dentures. The Amish seem to have found a solution that works and is not in a hurry to change it.

Do Amish people replace all their teeth with dentures?

The Amish people are said to replace all their teeth with dentures.

The Amish who pull teeth will remove a problematic tooth or even a full set of teeth because dentures are significantly less expensive than treating a problematic tooth or undergoing lifelong dental treatment.

Even if the teeth look fine, it is not uncommon for someone to have all of their teeth extracted to avoid future problems. In this case, the Amish are said to have the procedure done when the patient is young, sometimes in their late teens.

For the Amish, it is simply a matter of economics and pragmatism. Unfortunately, among the Amish, pulling all teeth to make room for dentures is common.

It is reported that the Amish dental molders get to work after the teeth are extracted. First, they fit the molds to the patient’s gums to determine the shape. The molder then applies quick-setting gel to it. The mold is then replaced on the patient’s gums to allow the gel to set.

Amish dentures are said to cost as little as one-tenth of what most trained prosthodontists charge. 

Dental practices among the Amish
What is special about pulling teeth among the Amish people? See below

What is special about pulling teeth among the Amish people?

Pulling teeth is special because it seems to be a common and preferred way of dealing with dental problems in many Amish communities. They don’t seem too concerned with having a beautiful smile or trying to keep up with dental care trends. This is just an example of how the Amish view life differently from the rest of the population and hold very different values. While dental care is regarded as necessary for most non-Amish world, it seems to have very low priority for the Amish.

Is it also special as this Amish dental practice continues without being regulated because the Amish community insulates what happens in their communities from influences from the outside world.

It is different as the Amish tooth practitioners are said to be self-taught, have little access to contemporary dental training, and work with crude tools. Numbing agents are sometimes unavailable. The tooth doctors are said to sometimes not charge for their service but may accept donations instead.


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