Why do the Amish have their Teeth Pulled Out?
Many people are shocked to learn that the Amish don’t care much for the health and appearance of their teeth. There are a number of Amish reality shows that have introduced the concept of having a healthy set of teeth pulled out even at a relatively young age. Although this belief may be in dramatic opposition to the modern view of dental care, teeth have little value to the Amish. This is only one of the many cultural differences between the Amish and their modern American neighbors.
Amish History and Beliefs
To understand why the Amish don’t value their teeth we need to understand a little bit about who the Amish are. The Amish came to the U.S. to seek religious freedom in the early 18th century. They left Europe in part because they were being persecuted for their religious beliefs and practices. The Amish strictly adhere to their interpretation of the bible and follow a life that they believe honors God. They see the purpose of their life as pleasing God and the goal to ultimately gain entry to heaven. The Amish value family, community and God. The way in which they live their life follows these values. When we understand this we can understand why they make the choice to remove teeth rather than care for them.
Amish and Religious Freedom
As shocking as it may seem to consider removing a mouth full of healthy teeth, it is important to remember that the U.S. was founded on religious freedom and a separation of church and state. In order for each of us to enjoy our freedoms we need to respect the freedom and differences of others, such as the Amish, their choices and their way of life.
The Amish and Change
Over the last century technology and culture has rapidly changed and advanced. During this time, the Amish have made very careful choices as to what advancements they will adopt. Each Amish community makes a careful decision about the use of technology such as telephones and automobiles. Because this is done separately by each community, the rules differ from one to the next. Some communities allow bicycles while others don’t. Some communities allow bicycles with petals while others allow bicycles without petals.
The Amish rejected the advancements in dental care that were progressing in the outside world, leaving them locked in 18th century dental care.
God’s Will (Gottes Wille)
The Amish believe that life needs to function by way of God’s Will. If a house burns down, it was God’s Will, for this reason the Amish do not use smoke alarms. If we apply this belief to the teeth, the same holds true. If a tooth develops a cavity and is in pain, this is God’s Will as well. The Amish most often approach medical care in this way. The beauty of this way of life is that it is simple, the Amish community member simply needs to accept that whatever happens is God’s Will, and there is nothing that can do done about it. There is a kind of freedom in that.
Pulling Teeth Out
For the Amish it seems a lot more practical, and less expensive to have a tooth removed than going through the process of saving a tooth. Dentures are more cost effective than lifetime oral care. Having a tooth, a number or teeth, or mouthful of teeth removed is commonplace amongst the Amish.
Learning Dental Care
While most of us were taught to brush, floss and see our dentist regularly, the Amish will often only see a dentist to have a painful tooth removed, or perhaps all the teeth removed in one shot since rather than come back again for the other teeth, this is cheaper than actually caring for the teeth. It is seen as an economical choice not one of vanity or necessity.
The Amish believe that vanity goes against God. The concern one might feel for the look of the teeth would be looked down upon. It is considered vain to be concerned about the appearance of the teeth. Since the Amish strictly follow the rules of their community, they would almost never consider going against this way of dealing with a problem tooth. If following the community is following God’s will and they want to go to heaven, then they will follow these rules and not give it any thought.
Amish have Healthier Teeth
It is interesting to note that one study done by a dentistry Professor named Bagramian, in 1985, found that the Amish have fewer cavities and lower rates of gum disease when compared to the general population. Since the Amish follow a healthy diet and eat few snacks, the rate of cavities is half that of the U.S. population. Gum disease was found to be 3.6 times lower than the general population. The study also found that 88.3 percent of Amish did not floss and just 1 in 3 brushed their teeth daily.
Many people are surprised to learn that the Amish people don’t think twice about having a problematic tooth removed or even a mouthful of healthy teeth extracted. The Amish look at life very differently and have a very different set of values than most modern people. The Amish see most medical ailments as part of God’s plan and therefore God’s will. They feel that accepting God’s will is what makes them better Christians. While most American’s would disagree with the choice to have healthy teeth pulled, they would likely agree that religious freedom and respect for differences remain just as fundamental to our nation's foundation.
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More Good Information about the Amish
- Why is Rebecca from Breaking Amish Missing her Teeth?
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- 10 Amish Ways of Life that May Surprise You
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- Why do the Amish Stay? What keeps the Amish from Lea...
The prospect of an Amish community member leaving and entering the modern world is stacked with huge hurdles. The forces that keep the Amish together reveal a lot about who the Amish really are.
© 2014 Tracy Lynn Conway
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