You Need A Denture? Here Are Some Dead Soldier’s Teeth

Samuel Reason | January 27th, 2018

When the dentist industry was just getting started the first hurdle dentist had to overcome was to have enough dentures for the demand. You see in the 19th century, suddenly tooth decay was appearing everywhere mostly credited to the overconsumption of sugar. Dentists had to think outside the box to keep up with the demand so they used what is now known as “Waterloo Teeth.”

Essentially they would make dentures from using the teeth of dead soldiers. Dentures were in such high demand that people knew they could make a profit from scavenging and looting dead bodies for good quality teeth! It all started back in the battle of Waterloo in 1815, the looters would grab as many teeth as they could and even sort them into full sets. Once sorted they could sell them on to dentists who would cut off their roots by boiling them and shaping them into dentures.

This practice was even further pushed into demand by society at the time preferring their dentures to be made from human teeth. Human teeth were seen to be more comfortable than porcelain or ivory. People also thought that they looked more realistic.

The real question is did dentist know where all these teeth were coming from? The dentures are definitely referred as “Waterloo teeth” later on in historical texts but historians have never been able to find this term in 19th century texts. Therefore it is not really known if people knew that they were using dentures made of dead soldiers teeth. But in all honesty back in the 19th-century dentistry was not really a medical science, everyone was doing it from your blacksmiths to your local jeweler. So if you were wearing dentures back then… they literally could have been made of anything!

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