George Washington never owned a set of wooden teeth, but he did own many sets of dentures.
Paul Revere (January 1735-May 10, 1818) was an American silversmith, engraver, early industrialist, and Patriot in the American Revolution. He is best known for his midnight ride to alert the colonial militia in April 1775 to the approach of British forces before the battles of Lexington and Concord, as dramatized in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem, “Paul Revere’s Ride”.
During the 1760’s, an English dental surgeon named Dr. John Baker taught Revere how to make and fit patients with artificial teeth. Revere set up his own practice in Boston and advertised his services in the Boston Gazette in 1770. The National Museum of Health and Medicine notes that Revere fitted Dr. Joseph Warren (June 11, 1741 – June 17, 1775), a Harvard trained physician and fellow patriot, with a set of ivory dental prosthetics to replace his upper left canine and first premolar that he had attached to Warren’s jaw with gold wire.
Paul Revere inadvertently became America’s first forensic dentist when he was given the gruesome task of identifying the body of Dr. Joseph Warren, the man who sent him on his famous “midnight ride”. Warren was struck down by a British bullet during the Battle of Bunker Hill on June 17, 1775 and his corpse was buried in a mass grave. When Warren’s family unearthed the grave nine months later, visual identification of the bodies inside was near impossible because they had decomposed. So Revere, the man who crafted the slain officer’s false teeth, was asked to locate Warren’s remains by finding the ivory dentures he crafted and wired to Warren’s jaw.
Identification of a person based on their teeth was an unconventional technique in the 18th century. Paul Revere’s use of simple forensic dentistry is described by the National Museum of Health and Medicine as “one of the earliest cases of forensic evidence used to identify a fallen American soldier”.
The History of Dentistry
Horace Wells (1815-1848) was a compassionate dentist of deep religious convictions. In the aftermath of an especially agonizing dental operation, he would sometimes stop work for several weeks, too traumatized by the need to inflict such terrible pain on his patients to continue. Fortunately, he persevered.
On 10th December 1844, Wells recognized that nitrous oxide might prove a godsend to surgical medicine. Wells decided that the first guinea pig should be himself. So, he had an erupting wisdom tooth extracted using the higher dosages of nitrous oxide needed to induce insensibility. The extraction was a success, and he performed over a dozen extractions using nitrous oxide within a month. His student and partner, William Morton, encouraged him to demonstrate his finding. The demonstration at Massachusetts General Hospital failed because the gas bag was withdrawn too soon, and the patient was only partially anesthetized. He continued his attempts to promote nitrous oxide anesthesia, even travelling to Europe, where there was wider acceptance.
Meanwhile, William Morton experimented with ether, and administered the first successful general anesthetic to a patient for the removal of a neck tumor. The demonstration was performed at the same location where Wells was disgraced, which is now a historical monument called The Ether Dome.
Both Wells and Morton died despondent and bankrupt. Every dentist should read their very important biographies as their contributions are medical, surgical and ethical milestones.
On December 2, 1982 Seattle dentist Barney Clark became the first human recipient of a permanent artificial heart. He survived the heart, and the accompanying media circus, for 112 days.
Clark, 61, was the ideal candidate, suffering from debilitating congestive heart failure. Doctors determined that he was too sick to be eligible for a heart transplant, leaving the implant of an artificial heart his only option.
Clark’s predicament coincided with the FDA approving a new artificial heart for human implantation, a device known as the Jarvik 7. It was named for one of its key developers, Dr. Robert Jarvik, at the University of Utah. The Jarvik 7 was state-of-the-art for its time, and was the first one designed for permanent use. It employed a heart-shaped pump that was implanted into the patient. An external pneumatic compressor, connected to the pump by tubes running through the chest wall, regulated
He never left the hospital after his transplant, and ultimately died of “circulatory collapse and secondary multi-organ system failure” triggered by cytomegalovirus infection that was likely the result of a blood
Edgar Buchanan (1903–1979) At the age of seven, he and his family moved to Oregon. After studying at the University of Oregon, he followed in his father’s footsteps and became a dentist, graduating from North Pacific Dental College. He was a member of Theta Chi Fraternity (Alpha Sigma Chapter, University of Oregon) From 1929 to 1937, he practiced oral surgery in Eugene, Oregon. He then moved his practice to Altadena, CA. There he joined the Pasadena Community Playhouse, giving up dentistry at age 36. He turned the practice over to his wife and began his acting career.
Dr. Buchanan appeared in a total of 13 different productions with Glenn Ford. His friend of many years, Glenn Ford, once told a story of when Edgar was preparing to do some painful dental work on him. The anesthesia consisted of others passing by and allowing the patient, Glenn, to take swallows of whiskey to help ease the pain of the process. About every third drink Glenn took, Edgar took one as well.
Dr. Buchanan made his film debut in 1939. His chubby face and gravelly voice were featured in over 100 films, but he is perhaps best known for TV roles in Hopalong Cassidy (1952), Judge Roy Bean (1955), Petticoat Junction (1963), and Cade’s County (1971). He played the same character (Uncle Joe Carson) on three different series: The Beverly Hillbillies (1962), Petticoat Junction (1963) and Green Acres (1965). His favorite role was in Texas (1941).