Monday, February 17, 2014

Preserving your teeth in 1830

Monday, February 17, 2014
View at Library of Congress
Loretta reports:

As Isabella has previously noted, preserving teeth was far from easy.  False teeth were common—among those who could afford them—as were interesting combinations of sensible and bizarre dental advice, like the following:

To ensure sound teeth to a good old age, it is absolutely proper to begin from early youth by cleaning them regularly every morning. The durability of teeth depends upon the thickness of the enamel, which should never be rubbed too long with powder of any sort, as the constant repetition of it very sensibly wears it, which will grow thin and be rendered unable of long withstanding the relentless corroding influence of time.

The teeth, which consume more by night than by day, should be rinsed well with water and a soft brush previous to going to bed. This disperses the vegetable and animal matter that after meals is apt to get into the interstices of the teeth, and there corrupts; which, though not felt then, gradually lays the foundation of decay.

View at Yale Center for British Art
However nauseous and unpleasant it may be to the palate, I am convinced there is nothing that preserves the teeth so well as tobacco. The reason why you will never see an old or inveterate smoker with bad teeth. On this account I recommend the ashes of tobacco, mixed with a little salt and fine charcoal, as the best preservative for the teeth: of the vegetable acids that are vended, and so much commended as toothpowders, though they, like every other acid, will produce a whiteness on the first application, it never remains, not even for an hour, while its influence is most pernicious, implanting the seeds of decay in a very short time. Finally, to conclude with respect generally to imperfections in the teeth and gums, timely recourse should always be had to a dentist, who, by judicious management, may afford a remedy which is so frequently essentially necessary for the preservation of these important organs.
The Whole Art of Dress! 1830
(the full excerpt is here at the Internet Archive)

Illustration top left courtesy Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA.  Illustration lower right,
Rowlandson, Taunting with Smoke from a Pipe, courtesy Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.  Clicking on the captions will allow you to read at the source, where you can learn more and enlarge images as needed.


Unknown said...

Thanks for the information...
Family Dentist Morristown NJ

sibyl said...
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