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‘Monty, Bring the Blood Can!’ Pulling Teeth in Working-Class Lancashire, 1900-1948

Jones, Claire L. (2024) ‘Monty, Bring the Blood Can!’ Pulling Teeth in Working-Class Lancashire, 1900-1948. Twentieth Century British History, . ISSN 0955-2359. (In press) (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:105014)

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Working-class health cultures before the NHS have long been of scholarly interest but those related to oral health are chronically underexamined. This article examines one important aspect of this history - tooth pulling - in early twentieth-century Lancashire. By highlighting the dynamics of market supply and demand, it demonstrates how and why the tooth pulling services of non-orthodox practitioners called dental mechanics remained popular despite the increasing monopolisation of oral health by dentists. While dentists characterised mechanics as quacks and offered expensive and exclusionary services many feared, working-class Lancastrians sought out mechanics because they formed a trusted part of their communities. This demonstration of a population’s preference for unorthodox over orthodox practitioners provides a much-needed counter-narrative to professionalisation in oral health and highlights the significance of geographically specific traditions over the values of medicine and science.

Item Type: Article
Projects: Oral Health Inequalities, Oral Hygiene Practices in England, 1870-1970
Uncontrolled keywords: teeth; tooth pulling; working-class; Lancashire; early twentieth-century; dentistry
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
R Medicine > RK Dentistry
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of History
Funders: Academy of Medical Sciences (
Depositing User: Claire Jones
Date Deposited: 16 Feb 2024 14:09 UTC
Last Modified: 19 Feb 2024 11:42 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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