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Why do the Amish have their Teeth Pulled Out?

Updated on April 21, 2014
The Amish often have teeth pulled out rather than spend time and money on dental care and treatment.
The Amish often have teeth pulled out rather than spend time and money on dental care and treatment. | Source

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.

The Amish came to the U.S. so that could practice their religion and way of life without persecution.
The Amish came to the U.S. so that could practice their religion and way of life without persecution. | Source

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.

The expense of caring for teeth would be considered vain and impractical to the Amish.
The expense of caring for teeth would be considered vain and impractical to the Amish. | Source

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.

Vanity

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.

One study found that 1 in 3 Amish brush their teeth daily.
One study found that 1 in 3 Amish brush their teeth daily. | Source

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.

How do you feel about the Amish choice to have teeth pulled?

See results

© 2014 Tracy Lynn Conway

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    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      Wow, I did not know this! This was enlightening to me. I had seen one lady on Breaking Amish who didn't have her own teeth, but I thought it was an anomaly!

    • Tracy Lynn Conway profile image
      Author

      Tracy Lynn Conway 3 years ago from Virginia, USA

      Flourish,

      It is shocking! While it makes sense to the Amish it goes against our fundamental philosophy on dental care which is to always try to save a tooth.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Very interesting. I love to watch old shows and look at their teeth. Nowadays everybody who is anybody has ridiculous looking perfect teeth. Really?

      Great hub!

    • Tracy Lynn Conway profile image
      Author

      Tracy Lynn Conway 3 years ago from Virginia, USA

      Eric,

      Yes, I agree with you. Sometimes I find myself staring at a persons teeth when they appear too perfect, because it seems so unatural. Also, when the teeth appear ultra white I find myself focusing only on their teeth. I have also noticed that many dentist don't have perfect looking teeth, that says a lot. Great observation! Thank you.

    • carter06 profile image

      Mary 2 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      Such an interesting topic Tracy I just had to read it..had no idea about this but I guess many native tribes have their own beliefs on how to take care of themselves as well don't they..Voted interesting for sure..cheers

    • Tracy Lynn Conway profile image
      Author

      Tracy Lynn Conway 2 years ago from Virginia, USA

      Carter,

      You bring up a good point, this planet is filled with many interpretations of what life is and how we should live it, the Amish offer one interpretation among many.

      Best, Tracy

    • profile image

      blue sky mel 2 years ago

      Since we now know the important part healthy teeth play in overall heath, it is time for the Amish to start taking care of their dental hygiene. The attitude that maintaining healthy teeth is just vanity, is incorrect, harmful to innocent children, and is a very lazy, unhealthy, and unsanitary belief. This makes me lose a great deal of the admiration I have always had for the Amish.

    • pocono foothills profile image

      John Fisher 2 years ago from Easton, Pennsylvania

      The fact that the Amish have fewer cavities than the average American population adds even more support to my belief that fluoridated water does more harm than good, and fluoridated toothpastes are just a marketing gimmick for companies like P&G and others to make more money.

    • profile image

      B. Sinacore 20 months ago

      How do they chew their food with no teeth?

    • Tracy Lynn Conway profile image
      Author

      Tracy Lynn Conway 16 months ago from Virginia, USA

      B. Sinacore,

      They use dentures because they consider this a more economical way to go.

    • profile image

      JHK655 16 months ago

      I love poll at the end. The only right answer by the way is "I don't care", unless you're Amish of course. You shouldn't feel the need to accept it, and certainly not become upset by it. Whatever they do is their business and everyone else can fuck off with their opinions. lol, ridiculous.

    • profile image

      Val 7 months ago

      I assume the Amish keep their bodies clean, so the mouth and teeth should also be kept clean. Baking soda and even salt or salt water can be used instead of commercial toothpaste. Also tooth picks or small twigs can be used. Teeth are very important for eating as God has provided us. Dentures are man made and should be a last resort usually at old age.

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