Thursday, January 23, 2014

Getting to the Tooth of the Matter

 

Do you know what these are?

If you guessed dental tools you would be correct?
Now, who owned them?

None other than America’s silversmith and favorite son of Liberty who rode the countryside warning the folks that the British were coming. 
No…not William Dawes, but that other one.  Yes, old what’s his name?

Yes!  Paul Revere!
Following the French and Indian War the economy in the colonies had been what is described by some today as an economic downturn.

Actually, folks were really hurting financially. Not only did the colonies take a hit with the French and Indian War there was something called the Stamp Act that severely impacted Paul Revere’s business.
With creditors after his property and no orders coming in for his metal working Revere turned towards dentistry.

Seems logical. Right?
A surgeon staying with a mutual friend taught Revere some of the tricks of the trade.

Yes, five years before his midnight ride the following ad appeared in the Boston Gazette and Country Journal dated August 20, 1770 titled “Artificial Teeth” that stated:
“Paul Revere, Takes this Method ‘of returning his most sincere Thanks to the Gentlemen and Ladies who have employed him in the care of their Teeth, he would now inform them and all others, who are so unfortunate as to lose their Teeth by accident or otherways, that he still continues the Business of a Dentist, and flatters himself that from the Experience he has had these Two Years (in which Time he has fixt some Hundreds of Teeth) that he can fix them as well as any Surgeon-Dentist who ever came from London, he fixes them in such a Manner that they are not only an Ornament, but of real Use in Speaking and Eating:  He cleanses the Teeth and will wait on any Gentleman or Lady at their Lodgings, he may be spoke with at his Shop opposite Dr. Clark’s at the North End, where the Gold and Silversmith’s business is carried on in all its Branches.”

Revere made his dentures from walrus ivory.
Now, I know what you are thinking…

No, as far as I know Revere never crafted a set of dentures for George Washington.
I’ve written here about the tragic death of Dr. Warren at the Battle of Bunker Hill (Breed’s) using Trumbull’s iconic painting with students.

Amazingly, Paul Revere was the one who was able to identify Warren's body nine months after the battle because he recognized a tooth he had replaced in Dr. Warren's dental work.

Paul Revere...forensic dentistry.

Don't you love the twists and turns of history? 

1 comment:

Nic said...

Very interesting post with a similarly interesting photo to accompany it. It's a good think that Paul was concerned about his dental hygiene. I imagine that they didn't have the lovely fluoride treatments and tooth whitening capabilities of today.