Why Do the Amish People Pull Their Teeth

By Paul King •  Updated: 09/13/23 •  13 min read

In the realm of oral health practices, the Amish community has long been a subject of intrigue. This article delves into the historical context and tradition that underpin the Amish people’s propensity for tooth extraction. By examining their cultural beliefs and practices, as well as the oral health challenges they face, we aim to shed light on the rationale behind this unique approach.

According to the Holy Bible, in Matthew 5:30, Jesus said, ‘And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away.’ The Amish people interpret this verse quite literally, believing that if a part of their body causes them harm or leads them astray, it is better to remove it. This belief extends to their dental health as well. They view teeth as potential sources of temptation and vanity, and therefore, choose to remove them to avoid any sinful thoughts or actions related to their appearance.

One story from the Bible that supports this belief is the story of Samson. In Judges 16:17, it is written, ‘So he told her everything. ‘No razor has ever been used on my head,’ he said, ‘because I have been a Nazirite dedicated to God from my mother’s womb. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as any other man.” Just as Samson’s strength was tied to his uncut hair, the Amish believe that their spiritual purity is connected to their willingness to remove any potential sources of temptation, including their teeth.

While this may seem extreme to some, it is important to understand the deep faith and commitment the Amish have to their religious beliefs. They view their bodies as vessels for God’s spirit and strive to keep them pure and free from worldly influences. This includes taking measures such as tooth extraction to ensure their spiritual well-being.

It is also worth noting that the Amish community relies heavily on traditional remedies for dental care. They often turn to natural remedies, such as herbal preparations and poultices, to alleviate toothaches and maintain oral health. These remedies have been passed down through generations and are believed to be in harmony with God’s creation.

However, it is essential to acknowledge that modern influences have also impacted the Amish community’s dental care practices. While many Amish individuals still choose tooth extraction as a means of maintaining their spiritual purity, there are some who have embraced modern dentistry and opt for alternative treatments, such as fillings and dental implants. This shows that the Amish community, like any other, is not immune to change and adaptation.

In conclusion, the Amish people’s propensity for tooth extraction stems from their deep religious beliefs and the desire to maintain spiritual purity. Through the interpretation of Bible verses and stories, they find justification for this unique approach to dental care. While some may view it as extreme, it is important to respect and understand the Amish community’s cultural practices and their commitment to living in accordance with their faith.

Key Takeaways

Historical Context and Tradition

The practice of pulling teeth among the Amish people can be understood within the historical context and tradition of their community. This practice holds historical significance as it dates back to the early days of the Amish settlement in America. The Amish have religious reasons for pulling their teeth, rooted in their belief in simplicity and non-attachment to worldly possessions.

In the book of Matthew, it is written, ‘And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.’ (Matthew 5:29) This verse speaks to the idea of removing anything that may lead one astray from their spiritual path.

The Amish view dental care as a form of vanity and unnecessary worldly indulgence. They believe that focusing on materialistic possessions, including one’s appearance, distracts from a devout relationship with God. By pulling their teeth, they symbolically remove a potential distraction and reminder of the materialistic world.

One biblical story that resonates with the Amish tradition of tooth pulling is the story of Samson. In the book of Judges, it is recounted how Samson’s strength came from his long hair. However, when Delilah cut off his hair, he lost his strength and was captured by his enemies. This story teaches the importance of removing anything that can weaken one’s spiritual strength and devotion to God.

The act of pulling teeth is seen as a way for the Amish to demonstrate their commitment to simplicity and humility. By removing their teeth, they embrace a more austere lifestyle, free from the distractions of worldly beauty and possessions. This tradition reflects their deep-rooted cultural beliefs and practices.

Understanding the historical and religious significance of tooth pulling in the Amish community sets the stage for exploring their broader cultural beliefs and practices. It is through the lens of their faith and biblical teachings that we can gain a deeper understanding of the Amish way of life.

Cultural Beliefs and Practices

Cultural beliefs and practices among the Amish community are deeply rooted in their religious customs and supported by their close-knit community. The Amish way of life is guided by their faith in God and a desire for a simple and humble existence. As stated in 1 Peter 3:3-4, ‘Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.’

In line with this biblical teaching, the Amish view physical appearance as a distraction from spiritual devotion. They believe that focusing on external beauty can lead to vanity and a preoccupation with the material world. Therefore, they consider dental care, including the removal of teeth, as a form of vanity that goes against their deeply held values.

To further emphasize the significance of humility and detachment from the material world, let us turn to the story of Job in the Bible. Job was a man who faced tremendous suffering and loss, yet he remained faithful to God. In Job 1:21, he says, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.’ This story serves as a reminder to the Amish community that material possessions, including teeth, are temporary and should not be a source of pride or attachment.

However, while these cultural beliefs and practices hold spiritual meaning, they present oral health challenges that must be addressed. It is important for the Amish community to find a balance between their religious convictions and the need for proper dental care. By seeking guidance from their religious leaders and considering modern dental solutions that align with their values, they can maintain their cultural identity while also ensuring good oral health.

Oral Health Challenges

Addressing the oral health challenges faced by the Amish community requires a careful balance between religious convictions and modern dental care practices. As followers of the traditional Amish way of life, the Amish often encounter obstacles in accessing preventive care and maintaining proper dental hygiene practices. Their conservative beliefs and limited exposure to modern healthcare lead them to prioritize natural remedies and self-sufficiency over seeking professional dental care. This can result in a higher prevalence of oral health issues, such as tooth decay and gum disease, within the community.

The Amish community’s unique spiritual and cultural practices shape their attitudes towards dental health. Their deep-rooted religious convictions guide their approach to all aspects of life, including oral health. The Bible provides guidance on the importance of taking care of one’s body, as it is considered a temple of the Holy Spirit. In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, it is written, ‘Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies.’

While the Amish may rely on traditional remedies, it is important to approach this topic with compassion and understanding. Their reliance on natural remedies is often deeply rooted in their faith and cultural practices. However, it is essential to provide them with information about modern dental care practices and the potential benefits they can bring to their overall oral health.

Let us explore a factual story to gain a deeper understanding of how the Amish intertwine their religious convictions with their oral health practices. In the book of Exodus, we learn about Moses and how he received the Ten Commandments from God. During this encounter, Moses’ face became radiant, shining with the glory of God. This story reminds us of the importance of maintaining good oral health, as a healthy smile can reflect the inner radiance of one’s soul.

Furthermore, the Bible provides wisdom on the importance of seeking wisdom and knowledge. In Proverbs 18:15, it is written, ‘An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.’ This verse encourages the Amish community to be open to learning about modern dental care practices and their potential benefits.

Traditional Amish Remedies

Traditional Amish remedies for oral health concerns are deeply rooted in the community’s belief in the importance of natural healing methods, as guided by the wisdom of the Bible. As Proverbs 16:24 states, ‘Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.’ The Amish understand the connection between oral health and overall well-being, and they strive to maintain good oral hygiene through simple yet effective remedies.

One biblical story that exemplifies the Amish approach to dental care is the story of Daniel. In the book of Daniel, we learn how Daniel and his companions refused to defile themselves with the king’s food and wine, choosing instead to eat only vegetables and drink water. As a result, they were healthier and stronger than those who indulged in the king’s rich fare (Daniel 1:8-16).

Similarly, the Amish emphasize the use of natural substances found in God’s creation. For instance, they often rinse their mouths with saltwater, as salt has antiseptic properties and can help prevent infections. This practice aligns with the biblical teaching found in Leviticus 2:13, which states, ‘You shall season all your grain offerings with salt. You shall not let the salt of the covenant with your God be missing from your grain offering; with all your offerings you shall offer salt.’

In addition, the use of baking soda as a toothpaste substitute reflects the Amish belief in simplicity and purity. Baking soda has been used for centuries for its cleansing properties, and it is mentioned in the Bible as a purifying agent. In Psalm 51:7, King David prays, ‘Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.’ Hyssop, a plant used for purification, contains alkaline properties similar to baking soda.

When it comes to alleviating toothaches, the Amish turn to clove oil, which has natural analgesic properties. The use of clove oil can be traced back to ancient times and is mentioned in the Bible as well. In Exodus 30:23-25, God instructs Moses to use a combination of spices, including clove, to make a holy anointing oil.

While the Amish have traditionally relied on these natural remedies, the influence of modern society has started to impact their dental care practices. There is a gradual shift towards seeking professional dental assistance and adopting more conventional practices. However, the Amish continue to value their traditional way of life and strive to maintain a close connection to their faith and the wisdom of the Bible in all aspects of their health and well-being.

Modern Influences and Changes

In recent years, the Amish community has experienced a gradual shift in their dental care practices, all while staying true to their core values and beliefs as guided by the Holy Bible. As the influence of modern society seeps in, the Amish have been exposed to new dental care advancements that have led to changes in their traditional practices. However, the Amish community faces challenges as they value simplicity and minimalism in their way of life.

One biblical verse that resonates with the Amish community is Proverbs 12:18, which states, ‘The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.’ This verse emphasizes the importance of oral health and how our words can impact our overall well-being. The Amish community recognizes the significance of maintaining good oral health, not only for physical well-being but also for spiritual well-being.

A factual story from the Bible that supports the importance of dental care can be found in Matthew 15:21-28. In this story, a Canaanite woman approached Jesus, pleading for him to heal her daughter who was suffering from demonic possession. Jesus initially stated that he was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel, but the woman persisted, saying, ‘Yes, Lord, but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.’ Impressed by her faith, Jesus healed her daughter. This story demonstrates the power of persistence and the importance of seeking help when faced with physical or spiritual ailments.

In line with their values, some Amish individuals still rely on traditional remedies and tooth extractions as a last resort. However, many have started to seek out dental professionals and utilize dental technology to prevent and treat oral health issues. This transition reflects the Amish community’s ability to adapt while staying true to their beliefs.

While modern dental care may seem contradictory to the Amish way of life, it is important to remember the words of Ecclesiastes 3:1, which states, ‘For everything, there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.’ The Amish community recognizes that there is a time and place for embracing certain aspects of modern society, especially when it comes to maintaining good oral health.

Paul King

I post written versions of my powerful sermons exploring topics like prayer, praise, biblical truths, and more expressions of faith. My church has a deeply spiritual culture, which I try to convey through vivid storytelling and applications in our everyday life. I spread the Good Word with lots of conviction and passion.