Historic “French Disease” Treatments and Tooth Loss

Dental Implants in Chicago

Syphilis, once widely known as the “French Disease,” has been known to us since the 15 th century, but effective treatments were not available until relatively recently. For centuries, the most commonly used cure for syphilis was mercury, an element used for medicinal purposes since ancient times. Unfortunately, as we now know, mercury is highly poisonous and it can have corrosive effects on the human body. Tooth loss was one of the most common side effects of using mercury to treat ailments, along with skin ulcers and nerve damage. The 20 th century saw the development of antibiotics, notably penicillin, that quickly replaced use of mercury treatments for syphilis.

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