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Archive for June 2015

Paul Revere: The Midnight Rider… and Dentist

Paul Revere: The Midnight Rider… and Dentist

As children, we learn of the legendary midnight ride of Paul Revere, who warned the colonists of Concord of approaching British troops. However, we seldom hear about Paul Revere’s other major accomplishments. In fact, Paul Revere worked as a silversmith, general blacksmith, and even a dentist in the years leading up to the Revolutionary War. While these facts often escape our imaginations and memories in society, the most interesting facts remain Paul Revere’s significant contributions to the field of dentistry.

How Did Paul Revere Become a Dentist?

In colonial times, few occupations held long-standing success and protection from financial hardships, especially with the growing concerns over “no taxation without representation.” In the 1760s, English Dental Surgeon, John Baker arrived in the colonies with the intention of introducing the colonists to a healthier standard of dental hygiene. Paul Revere saw the surgeon’s arrival as an opportunity to expand his work repertoire, and soon, he began studying dentistry under Baker’s direction. Baker taught Revere how to create and insert false teeth.

Paul Revere Fashions Denture Teeth for the Colonists

In 1768, Revere began performing dental work in his own shop for the colonists. However, Paul Revere began to notice problems with artificial teeth, commonly carved out of ivory, when it came to placing the teeth. Legend goes that Paul Revere also created a set of wooden dentures for George Washington, but no evidence has ever been found to support this notion. Paul Revere did, however, use his silversmith and copper-smith skills to effectively wire artificial teeth into his patients’ mouths as well as several artificial, ivory sets of teeth for George Washington.

In 1768, Paul Revere used his skills as a copper-smith to create a printing copper-plate for the Boston Gazette to promote his new dental practice. The field of dentistry had been so new that many newspapers did not feel any advertisement for dentistry was worth wasting a copper-plate on. Therefore, Paul Revere took the risk of creating the plate himself. Famously, the story exclaimed, “Paul Revere can fix [teeth] as well as any surgeon dentist who 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.” Previously, false teeth were used as simply a way to appear normal to others, but rarely, did the artificial teeth have any real use beyond appearance.

Paul Revere Becomes the First Forensic Dentist

Today, forensic experts use dental imprints and records to identify bodies when other means of visible identification have failed, especially if the body has decomposed or otherwise been altered. In 1776, Paul Revere became the first forensic dentist without even knowing it. A friend, who had been killed in the Battle of Bunker Hill, had been buried without identification or notifying his family members. Nine months following the battle, Paul Revere identified Joseph Warren’s body by correctly identifying the wiring in the body’s mouth as belonging to that of Joseph Warren. Ironically, the notion of using dental records and information may not have progressed to its common use today if Paul Revere had not been both a silversmith and dentist.

Salt Lake City, Utah Dentist

At Village Dental, we understand the long history and value of dentistry in America. Paul Revere transformed an ornamental industry into something all the colonists could use. He saw outside of the existing dentistry box with his use of wiring to insert teeth and ability to identify his friend by reviewing his teeth. In America, we have a long-standing tradition of honoring our founding fathers. While the Revolutionary War may have taken an even greater toll without Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride, he brought dentistry to the forefront of colonial concerns.

If you’d like to learn more about your teeth or find out if you need any dental work completed, contact Village Dental, located conveniently in Salt Lake City, Utah.