The year is 1776. The American colonies are in revolt against the British Empire. The war is going badly for the Americans, and they are suffering from a lack of supplies, food, and medicine. But there is one problem that is even more pressing than all of the others: bad oral hygiene.

The average American soldier in 1776 had terrible teeth. They were covered in plaque, tartar, and cavities. Their gums were red, swollen, and bleeding. They had bad breath, and they were constantly in pain.

Bad Teeth and the American Revolutionary War

There were a number of reasons for this bad oral hygiene, which happened amidst a backdrop of overall challenges with hygiene during a grueling war in a hot, humid climate during the summer and freezing cold rain and snow during winter.

First, Americans did not have access to the same level of dental care as we do today. There were no dentists, and the only way to get a tooth pulled was to go to a barber. Second, Americans ate a diet that was high in sugar and starch. This diet was very bad for their teeth, and it contributed to the development of cavities. Third, Americans did not know how to properly care for their teeth. They did not brush their teeth regularly, and they did not use toothpaste.

Sugar was used as a preservative in many foods during the Revolutionary War. This led to an increase in the consumption of sugar, which is a major cause of tooth decay.

The typical food and rations of an American Revolutionary War soldier were as follows:

American colonial struggle against bad breath

These rations were not always reliable, however, and soldiers often went without food or had to supplement their rations with whatever they could find. For example, they might forage for wild game or vegetables, or they might trade with local farmers for food.

The food that soldiers ate during the Revolutionary War was often bland and monotonous, but it was essential for their survival. A good diet helped to keep them healthy and strong, which was important for fighting in the war.

Scurvy Was a Catalyst for Tooth Loss and Substandard Oral Health During the Revolutionary War

The typical rations of an American Revolutionary War soldier did not contain enough vitamin C to prevent scurvy, and soldiers often went without food or had to supplement their rations with whatever they could find. For example, they might forage for wild game or vegetables, or they might trade with local farmers for food.

Scurvy is a disease caused by a lack of vitamin C, which is essential for the production of collagen. Collagen is a protein that is found in all of the body’s tissues, including the gums and teeth. When there is not enough vitamin C, the gums become weak and inflamed, and the teeth can become loose and fall out.

In addition to teeth loss, scurvy can also cause a number of other symptoms, including:

Scurvy is a serious disease, but it is easily preventable by eating a diet that is rich in vitamin C. Good sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits, berries, tomatoes, and green vegetables.

The Continental Army began to issue lime juice to its soldiers in 1777, and this helped to reduce the incidence of scurvy. However, scurvy remained a problem throughout the war, and it is estimated that up to 25% of soldiers suffered from the disease at some point.

Scurvy was a serious problem for Revolutionary War soldiers, but it was not the only disease that they faced. Other common diseases included typhus, dysentery, and smallpox. The lack of proper medical care made these diseases even more deadly, and it is estimated that up to 10% of soldiers died from disease during the war.

The Effects of Bad Teeth

Bad teeth had a number of negative effects on people during the Revolutionary War. They caused pain, infection, and difficulty eating. They also made it difficult to speak clearly. In some cases, bad teeth even led to death. Around the same time, French dentists were experimenting with porcelain teeth replacements.

george washington's crazy false teeth and custom dentures

In 1798, long after the U.S. had won its independence, George Washington placed an order for a set of dentures with Dr. Greenwood, a New York-based ivory turner. It was made of carved hippopotamus ivory teeth and gold wire springs. The dentures were a vast improvement over what Washington had been wearing, despite appearing uncomfortable to modern eyes.

At the age of 22, Washington started losing his teeth. Because of his wealth, he was able to order dentures from some of Europe’s best dentists. Prior to the set of false teeth he bought from Greenwood, it’s thought that he had a set of porcelain teeth made by renowned Parisian dentist Nicholas De Chemant.

Despite the Problems, People Still Fought

Despite the problems caused by bad teeth, people still fought in the Revolutionary War. They were motivated by a number of factors, including patriotism, a desire for freedom, and a belief in the right to self-determination.

The Revolutionary War Was a Time of Change

The Revolutionary War was a time of great change for the American colonies. It was a time when people fought for their independence and their right to self-determination. It was also a time when people began to think more about their health and well-being.

The End of the War Led to Improvements in Dental Care

After the Revolutionary War, there was an increase in the demand for dental care. This was due to a number of factors, including the rise of a middle class, the growth of cities, and the development of new dental techniques. As a result, more people began to see dentists, and the overall quality of dental care improved.

The History of Bad Teeth During the American Revolutionary War is a reminder of the challenges that people faced in the past. It is also a reminder of the importance of good dental care as the natural result of progress and freedom.