“This is how to keep your teeth: gather the grains of a leek, burn them with henbane, and direct the smoke thereof to your teeth with a funnel, as if smoking a pipe.” (Regimen Sanitatis Salernitanum (c. 13th century)
Some people believed that toothaches were caused by tiny worms that got in your teeth, and that you could remove them using complicated methods with seeds and wax. When you can’t brush, fumigate! Recommended by nine out of ten medieval dentists.
Back before modern dental science, people still had problems with their teeth, but oftentimes there wasn’t anything approaching an actual dentist around. In the early 1800’s there wasn’t even such a thing as a specific dental profession, and there certainly wasn’t anything in the way of licensing. What this meant is that many people only went to the dentist if they had a toothache and extractions were common.
Because dentists didn’t exist yet, the job fell to those who had the appropriate tools. For this reason, blacksmiths and barbers performed the majority of dental work. Of course, as time went on and the dental profession truly began, actual dentists became irritated at barbers and others who continued to practice without serious training, and now full licensing requirements mean you can no longer go to the village blacksmith to get your tooth pulled.