If the dentist gives you the creeps now, imagine sitting down with him before electricity.
At the Macaulay Museum of Dental History at MUSC, you can see a dentist’s office circa 1900, a time before a power grid existed in much of the South. You’ll also find a tool called a Silver Plugger. It was custom-made by Paul Revere (yes, that one; he was a silversmith) for the first native-born American dentist, Josiah Flagg.
The plugger, the collection’s oldest artifact, was used to mold silver fillings. Flagg died in Charleston in 1816. He’s buried at the Circular Congregational Church.
The collection also features four dental cabinets, hundreds of sharp and scary-looking dental instruments, the first dental X-ray made in South Carolina, and folding dental chairs used by dentists who traveled from town to town fixing teeth.
There’s even an old pump-drill. It’s like an antique sewing machine. It runs on pedal power. Instead of running a needle through cloth, it ran a drill-bit through teeth.
In terms of sheer dead weight, though, the curio title goes to the Macaulay Museum’s six dental chairs. They were made of iron and weigh about 500 pounds each. Again, dentists used a pump inside the iron chair to raise and lower patients. The better to drill their teeth with.
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