Nowadays, we are accustomed to dentists having an office. At BKS Dental, we’re here in our office at 201 Sherman Avenue W, with regular hours five days a week. You can even arrange for appointments on Saturday, sometimes.
However, in the pioneer days and through the Civil War era, most communities in Wisconsin didn’t have their own dentists. Instead, they relied on itinerant dentists, who would travel from town to town. Often, these dentists would have a set route they would travel, going through a dozen or so towns a few times a year.
These traveling dentists faced challenges in every town. First, they had to figure out where they were going to stay. If they were lucky, they would have a former patient in the town who was willing to put them up. This is doubly lucky, because not only does it give a dentist a place to stay, but it serves as a compelling testimonial about the quality of a dentist’s work.
A dentist without a patient who would host them would have to stay at a local tavern or inn, which was usually very crowded and unsanitary, or else ask around for someone willing to put them up for a few days.