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AllByMeOnesies

Let's talk dental hygiene

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Has anyone done any research on dental hygiene of the period? Seems like I've heard about everything else but that. Were there things available like toothbrushes (or something similar), etc.?

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Yikes teeth, have to look it up but seems like they did better than the egyptians in this area.... how about the no-nose club? :lol:

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Now this could get fascinating. Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't they find some manner of toothbrushy-thing on the Whydah?

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Here you go, quoting Picard... pages 104-105.... "It is just possible that dental health was better in the 17th century than in ours. Recommended daily care included scraping away plaque. Sugar was known to cause caries. Sugary snacks had not been invented. If a child's teeth grew in crooked, there was no orthodontist to fit a brace, but at least the enamel was not constantly assaulted by sweet foods and drinks. "

"Oil of clove was used to deaden pain; with of course bleeding, purges, cupping on the spine and blisters behind the ears. Once extraction of a tooth became unavoidable-and operators seem to have had a curious reluctance to get in there and pull, unlike midwives-a large pair of pliers should do the trick. But it might still be possible to kill the nerve by cautery, and apply strong acid to make the tooth fall apart on its own."

"False teeth could be made of elephant ivory, hippo tusk or ox bone."

"Implanting teeth from a donor (there was a glut of human teeth on the market after the Plague), or from a less visible site in the patient's own mouth, was practised, with what permanent success is unknown. Instead of implantation, the tooth might be anchored to its neighbours by silver wire, or silk thread. The French were better at false teeth than the English."

"When caries did occur it was thought to be due to a worm in the tooth..."

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oops Liza Picard's Restoration London, from poverty to pets, from medicine to magic, from slang to sex, from wallpapers to women's rights.

I'll see what Waller says about it in her 1700s book as well.....

Hector

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Waller claims "Teeth' is listed in the bills as a cause of death. Mortality was high among infants at teething stage."

"Septicaemai and abscess could kill."

"Tabacco was thought to cure toothache. Alternatively, The English Housewife advised: Take sage, rue smallage, fetherfew, wormwood, and mint, of each of them half a handful, then stamp them well all together, putting thereto four drams of vinegar, stir them all well together, then put it between two linnen clouts, of the bigness of your cheek, temples, and jaw, and quilt it in a manner of course imbroydery. Then set it upon a chassing-dish of coals, and as hot as you may abide it, lay it over the side where the pain is, and lay you down upon that side, and as it cools warm it up again, or else have another ready to lay on."

"If you keep your teeth from rotting, or aching, wash the mouth continually every morning with the juyce of lemons,'The Queen's Closet Open'd advised, 'and afterwards rub your teeth with a sage leaf, and wash your teeth after meat with fair water.' The returning court at the Restoration had introduced toothbrushes from Paris, but there is little evidence that they were widely used. Toothpicks were part of the toilette. It was possible to have the teeth scraped, but it was a painful and costly business. Extraction must have been all too tempting for those suffering toothache. False teeth, of human or animal origin, were available, but were so ill-fitting that speech became pretty much incomprehensible."

Pgs. 103-4. 1700 Scene from London Life... Maureen Waller.

Both Waller and Picard are a generalized history of the times but both help point you in the right direction and get your feet wet for life in general. And if you read over both their references and Waller's bibliography, you can find names of original authors and their articles....for more indepth, first source research....

Hector

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Waller claims "Teeth' is listed in the bills as a cause of death. Mortality was high among infants at teething stage."

"Septicaemai and abscess could kill."

"Tabacco was thought to cure toothache. Alternatively, The English Housewife advised: Take sage, rue smallage, fetherfew, wormwood, and mint, of each of them half a handful, then stamp them well all together, putting thereto four drams of vinegar, stir them all well together, then put it between two linnen clouts, of the bigness of your cheek, temples, and jaw, and quilt it in a manner of course imbroydery. Then set it upon a chassing-dish of coals, and as hot as you may abide it, lay it over the side where the pain is, and lay you down upon that side, and as it cools warm it up again, or else have another ready to lay on."

"If you keep your teeth from rotting, or aching, wash the mouth continually every morning with the juyce of lemons,'The Queen's Closet Open'd advised, 'and afterwards rub your teeth with a sage leaf, and wash your teeth after meat with fair water.' The returning court at the Restoration had introduced toothbrushes from Paris, but there is little evidence that they were widely used. Toothpicks were part of the toilette. It was possible to have the teeth scraped, but it was a painful and costly business. Extraction must have been all too tempting for those suffering toothache. False teeth, of human or animal origin, were available, but were so ill-fitting that speech became pretty much incomprehensible."

Pgs. 103-4. 1700 Scene from London Life... Maureen Waller.

Both Waller and Picard are a generalized history of the times but both help point you in the right direction and get your feet wet for life in general. And if you read over both their references and Waller's bibliography, you can find names of original authors and their articles....for more indepth, first source research....

Hector

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I remember reading also some things about various strong smelling herbs and whatnot being made into some form of nice-smell and being used like an ancient listerine mouthwash or menthos spray... and my Altoid tin claims the mints were first made when the company was founded in 1837, so certainly the idea of getting rid of bad breath must've been around for a while. If any of you more research-savvy can find anything more about that that'd be neat.

Also from what I've gathered the Celts and other peoples tended to be prety darn clean, specifically that they kept a religious turned cultural (The Christian monks didn't have a problem at all with converted Pagans keeping with this tradition) habit of daily bathing and usage of perfumes and whatnot from the early BC invention of soap till at least the 1500's in Ireland... I'd assume it stuck around even later too, but not sure if the English conquest may have changed that with the whole trying to destroy Irish culture thing. Anyone know if any of that spread around more or stuck around during GAoP? While I don't really want to end up moving the conversation to a different topic or anything, but the question popped in my head also... Any evidence of period 'deoderant' type things?

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I've heard of people once brushing their teeth with small twigs of birch or some such, before bristle brushes became available. Darned if I can remember where I read it.

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This is GREAT guys! This topic has been hotly debated many times in the F&I and RevWar camps over the years, and this info is the best I've ever heard/read anywhere! Thanx!

I don't know if you've ever read any of Kenneth Roberts fictional works Daniel, but the birch sticks are mentioned in them. He wrote the Arundel Chronicles, a trilogy on the New England coastal peoples involvement in the RevWar, and also some other great stories as well. Oliver Wiswell is written as from a loyalists point of view during the RevWar. The thing about Roberts work is that he researched everything about the history before writing, and he is familiar with sailing and such, so the stories are more than entertaining, they are full of historical fact as well, alot like Allan Eckert. Damn good reading for a cold or stormy evening for sure.

Capt. Bo

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Ok, It seems ye are all quite a bit in the know of such things..

I have long wondered on the subject of dental health on a ship. I know all the info about scurvy and bad water, lack of adequate nutrition etc...

But I have often wondered about care of tooth issues.

Having been the victim of more than one "Kill me now I can't stand it" wisdom tooth episodes which left me living on Excedrin and unintentionally portraying one posessed over a holiday weekend..

How would a pirate handle this? With rum having sugar in it, poor nutrition and hard biscuits, no to mention no asperin that I know of. The only thing I can figure is perhaps their diet wasn't as hard on the teeth as our modern day food laced with corn syriup and such.

While we're at it any thought on Gold teeth fact vs movies?

:lol: Arrrgghhh teeth! necessary but cursed

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now take this with a grain of salt as I don't have the references out side of personal experience to back this up but...

Yes there is sugar in alcohol. However what I have learned is that the alcohol itself tends to 1. take away the pain so to speak & 2. kills a lot of the bacteria in your mouth. After all the mouth washes that we use these days is basically alcohol. Drinking straight rum like they had would be basically the same thing (except who would spit out rum?)

I'm sure there were also quite a few remedies for pain killing. mint works wonders. Also clove oil is used currently, could have been used in gaop as well although expensive.

But like I said, just educated guessing here.

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Wow I knew you would come through! Interesting! I was trying to imagine being on a ship in the hot sun or a blowing gale with your head about to explolde.

I figure if they meant to be sucessful in their voyages and plunders, pirates would have to look after their health in some way despite getting grubby and sweaty. I'd be interested to see if there were any requirements in ship's rules for keeping of health so as not to endanger the usefuleness of ones'self or the rest of the crew.

Dont know much about apothecary of the period, but I suppose there must have been herbal remedies as mentioned.

Are there logs of ships surgeons that might tell this in depth? NOt that I'm looking for the yucky stuff, just to see what they had to fight maladies of the time.

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Wow I knew you would come through! Interesting! I was trying to imagine being on a ship in the hot sun or a blowing gale with your head about to explolde.

I figure if they meant to be sucessful in their voyages and plunders, pirates would have to look after their health in some way despite getting grubby and sweaty. I'd be interested to see if there were any requirements in ship's rules for keeping of health so as not to endanger the usefuleness of ones'self or the rest of the crew.

Dont know much about apothecary of the period, but I suppose there must have been herbal remedies as mentioned.

Are there logs of ships surgeons that might tell this in depth? NOt that I'm looking for the yucky stuff, just to see what they had to fight maladies of the time.

Any info on the gold teeth Q?

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I kind of had to laugh when reading all this stuff....ooops, my upper teeth just fell out.... :lol:

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Captain Sterling,

Take a look at the cover of Picard. If you have the same edition I do, there's a picture of a still life by Hoogstraten. I dimly recall a white (ivory?) toothbrush in it...

Kass

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A bit late for the GAoP era, but Gen. Washington's expense account for late 1777 included purchase of several toothbrushes and tooth powder. The composition of the latter is unspecified, but period recipes include talc, cuttlefish bone and other strange and frightening ingredients.

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Before the advent of lime juice, scurvy, a vitamin C deficiency disease, was a perpetual problem for sailors on long voyages. Among its effects was swelling and softening of the gums, causing teeth to loosen and fall out, so pirates like other sailors may have been more prone than the general populace to missing teeth.

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Concerning the skeleton of Individual Two from La Belle:

His jaws and teeth revealed even more. He had very bad, abcessed cavities that caused the loss of the right first and second molars, the upper left third molar, and the upper left premolar. We know this even though those teeth were missing because it was clear that Barange's jaws had deteriorated as a result of infected, abcessed teeth. The teeth that remained also showed significant decay. To compensate, Barange had been forced to use only his front teeth to chew food, which was evident from the severe wear on those teeth.  Furthermore, the upper canines and incisors were canted in a manner that suggested they were used as tools, perhaps to grip objects such as cordage.

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LowerjawclaspsIvorypartialdenture17.jpg

17th century Ivory partial denture for lower jaw

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Thats AWESOME ! is it in a private collection or a museum?., an art piece really in its day and at 250 or so years? its in some fine shape! Lots of work involved in making and shaping something comfortable enough for someone .

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Museum of London photo archive

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I am reading A History of Dentistry: From The Most Ancient times Until The End Of The Eighteenth Century by Vincenzo Guerini. This material is in his section on the estimable barber-surgeon Ambroise Paré. Paré's book was written in France in the late 16th century and translated into English in the early 17th. (Note, this mostly just corroborates the above info, but I thought it was interesting coming from one of the fathers of chirurgery.)

First, something that I thought would be of interest to re-enactors:

"The following chapter [Chapter XVI of Œvres complètes d' Ambroise Paré] speaks 'de la limosité ou rouillure des dents, et de la manière de les conserver.'

After meals the mouth must be rinsed with water or wine, or with water with a little vinegar added to it, and the teeth cleaned from all residues of food, so that their putrefying may not spoil the teeth and make the breath fetid. An earthy yellowish substance, like rust, often forms on the teeth from want of cleanliness and also when they are not used to masticate; this substance corrodes the teeth, just as rust corrodes iron. It is necessary to remove this substance, by scraping the teeth with small instruments suitable for the purpose, and then the teeth themselves must

__

be rubbed with a little aqua fortis [nitric acid in water] and aqua vitæ [distilled wine] mixed together, to take away what the instruments have not been able to remove. In order to preserve the teeth it is necessary, besides, to rub the teeth frequently with appropriate dentifrices. Among these the author mentions simple bread crust, burnt and reduced to powder." (Guerini, p. 196-7)

Now for some fun stuff...

"Sometimes, when a tooth is too firmly planted, one prefers, says Paré, instead of extracting it, to break off the crown for the purpose of being able to act directly on the dental nerve with appropriate remedies, or to destroy the sensibility of the nerve entirely, by cauterization. [burning with acid or heated steel instruments.]" (Guerini, p. 194)

"The extraction of a tooth should not be carried out with too much violence, as one risks producing luxation of the jaw or concussion of the brain and the eyes, or even bringing away a portion of the jaw together with the tooth (the author himself has observed this in several cases), not to speak of other serious accidents which may supervene, as, for example, fever, apostema [abcess], abundant hemorrhage, and even death.

In extracting a tooth it is necessary to place the patient on a very low seat, or even the ground, with his head between the legs of the operator. After having laid the tooth bare sufficiently, if one sees that it is very loose, one may push it out of its socket with a poussoir, that is, with a trifed lever. But if the tooth is too firmly rooted to be extracted with this instrument, one must make use of curved pincers, or else one may have recourse to a pelican. the author notes, however, that much skill is required in using this latter instrument, for otherwise it will almost certainly happen that several good teeth will be knocked out, instead of the one intended to be extracted." (Guerini, p. 194)

Below: A poussoir or trifed lever (Guerini, Fig 63, p. 195)

Guerini%20Trifid%20Lever%20from%20Fig%2063.jpg

Below: Top - two pelicans; bottom - curved pincers (Guerini, Figs 61 & 62, p. 193)

Guerini%20Pelicans%20and%20Pincers%20from%20Fig%2061%202.jpg

"In the treatment of toothache one must fulfil the following three indications:

1. Regulate fittingly the mode of living.

2. Evacuate or dissipate the morbid humors; this may be effected by various means, namely, by purgatives, by bleeding, by gingival

__

scarification [scarifying is the process of making many small incisions with a scalpel to allow bleeding - in this case in the gums], by the application of leeches on the site of the pain, by cupping on the back of the neck, or on the shoulders. [Cupping is the process of heating a small glass cup and placing it on a body part. As it cools, it draws the blood to the surface of the skin.]

3. Applying in each single case the medicaments best adapted for calming the pain.

...

When a decayed tooth becomes the seat of excessive pain, and this does not yield to any remedy, one must either have recourse to extraction or cauterize it; this can be done either with potential caustics - such as oil of vitriol [sulfuric acid], aqua fortis [nitric acid in water] - or with the actual cautery [a heated iron]. By cauterizing, Paré adds, one burns the nerve, thus rendering it incapable of again feeling or causing pain.

Erosion or caries [rotting or gradual destruction of the tooth] is the effect of an acute and acrid humor, that corrodes and perforates the teeth, often to their very roots. To combat this morbid condition, even when it is not accompanied by pain, one mus also have recourse (besides general treatment) to cauterization either with oil of vitriol, with aqua fortis, or with a small actual cautery.

If, as often happens, that the seat of the erosion lies in such a manner between two teeth as to make it impossible to apply caustics or other medicaments, one must file just sufficiently between the healthy and the corroded tooth to render the part accessible, taking care, however, to file more on the side of the affected tooth than on that of the healthy one.

The file may be used, besides, to plane down a tooth that stands out above the level of the others, or for similar purpose." (Guerini, p. 190-1)

Several Dental Files (Guerini, Fig 60, p. 192)

Guerini%20Dental%20Files%20from%20Fig%2060.jpg

Note: All these drawings are originally from Jacques Gillemeau's companion book to Paré's book - The French Chirurgerye.

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Mission, you are a sick and perverted man!!!!! Those look like something a leather worker would use on fine leather craft.

**makes mental note to not be around Mission when he is drunk and wielding those things or I'm drunk and he is wielding those things***

Animal

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wow and I thought dentists in this day and age are scarey.

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