Sara Bret. Courtesy of The Lithuanian Central State Archive.
Even today many people get very nervous about visiting the dentist. Back when Sara Bret began fixing the teeth of residents in the interwar period, there was no lack of those fearing a check-up and, God forbid, drilling procedures. A description of Sara's clinic hints at the possible unpleasantness:
"Materials needed for disinfection and medicines for stopping blood flow and reviving patients who have fainted are located in the operating room."
However strange this might seem, dentists in the period between the two world wars were not self-taught experts. They spent year after year studying dental health at universities in Lithuania and abroad.
Sara Bret began odontology studies in 1925. She graduated with a dentistry degree from Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas in 1932. At that time there were around 290 dentists in total operating in Lithuania. Sara opened a practice in Varniai. She spoke Yiddish, Lithuanian, German, French, and Russian and was able to treat people of different ethnic backgrounds. Thanks to her and others, shtetl residents didn't have to worry about embarking on expensive journeys to the city -- they were able to treat a toothache in their own area.