Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I was lucky to be in Baltimore this past weekend.  My father (a retired dentist) and I went to visit the National Museum of Dentistry, and affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution.  The first dental college in the world was founded by two professors from the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore in 1840. It was great fun to see learn the history of dentistry.  We saw Egyptian dental work dating back to 3000 BC.

There was an exhibit just for George Washington.  He had life long problems with his teeth.  They began in his 20s and when he was elected president in 1789 at age 57, hehad only one tooth left.  George tried hard to take good care of his teeth, but painful abcesses and extractions were common and may have been the cause of his reported short temper.  Four sets of dentures exist for George.  They are made from gold, ivory, lead, human and animal teeth (horse and donkey teeth were also common components).  Wires tied the top to the bottom teeth.

We are so fortunate that we have better materials to work with today.  Although some people still loose their teeth,  dentures can now be secured in the mouth with implants.  Dentistry has come along way since George’s day.

Stephen Sawyer, DDS

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