Why Teeth are More Thankful Now Than During the First Thanksgiving

As homage to the wide variety of food offered at the first Thanksgiving, many people’s tables will be laden with different kinds of meat, fruits, vegetables, sides, and desserts this year. The inevitable assault on your teeth is sure to raise at least a little dental health awareness, and we hope that you brush and floss your teeth to prevent so much food from feeding the bacteria in your mouth (which can lead to bad breath, tooth decay, and gum disease). However, if the feast began hundreds of years ago, how did early Thanksgiving feasters care for their teeth before and after the holiday? In the interest of historical dentistry, Sheridan dentist Dr. Coon lists some interesting facts about tooth care in Colonial America.

Thankful for Teeth!

  • Early European settlers had a lot to contend with in their new land. Hygiene should have been one of them, but cleanliness was apparently not at the forefront of the pilgrims’ minds. Most only bathed once a week, if that often.
  • Although a few dentists accompanied the first pilgrims, dental health care providers of the time focused only solving problems rather than preventing them.
  • The dentist shortage also meant that many people who lost their teeth simply continued without them, or had false ones made of wood. Neglected oral health issues can be damaging, sometimes decaying, and the epidemic was bad enough to elicit responses from newly-arrived Europeans. The new arrivals referred to many as having “scurvy of the mouth.”
  • In a case of grossly misguided machismo, men who cleaned their teeth with toothbrushes were considered feminine. Surprisingly, however, tooth loss seemed to affect women more than it affected men. Toothbrushes were a luxury for the rich, and common people settled for rubbing tooth powder on their teeth with a rag.

Keep Your Teeth Safe from Feasting

Luckily, advancements in dentistry have taught us much about how to take care of our teeth, and the importance of doing so. To learn about protecting your dental health, or to speak with your Sheridan dentist, schedule a consultation at Grinnell Street Dental by contacting our Sheridan dentist office at (307) 672-7567. We welcome patients from Sheridan, WY and the surrounding communities.