Teeth and authenticity

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PrincessOracle
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Teeth and authenticity

Post by PrincessOracle »

A question for the veteran re-enactors among you:

I appreciate that dental health was fairly good during those eras when refined carbohydrates didn't feature largely in the diet, but in more recent centuries, having all your own teeth seems to have been a bit of a bragging point. Have the zealous among you ever considered your 21st-century smiles in terms of authenticity?

Susannah

(Imagining an authenticity officer making the rounds with pliers)

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sally
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Post by sally »

Yep, Gareth has been known to take out his plate so he can show the odd gap if the circumstances demand it 8) I know a fair few others who are in a position to do the same thing if the inclination strikes.

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Zachos
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Post by Zachos »

I have good teeth, and keep them that way. There again, I'm from the high middle ages, and qute young, so there's no problem with the authenticity of that.

If I ever chipped a tooth I would consider keeping it like that to be a wound taken in combat. After all, wounds are awesome!
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Cat
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Post by Cat »

My biggest fear is losing a gnasher on the field! Ladies with gaps don't look so purty...
In answer to the O/P, there are planty of gappy blokes out there who remove falsies for the fighting.
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Annis
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Post by Annis »

I once damaged a tooth when pulling a needle through a very tight aiglet.... :oops:
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calicocloth
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Post by calicocloth »

I think one of the biggest problems in the past (were diet induced caries wasn't much of an issue), was accidental damage. If it were not for modern dentistry many of us would have fairly unsightly smiles regardless of the care we have taken of our teeth. Hard physical work, sport, play, horse riding and combat must all have taken their toll. It is only really the last fifty or so years and especially the last ten, that such damage could be made good.

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Post by Dave B »

But do the facts bear that out.

I think well preserved skeletons quite often come out of the ground with an excellent set of teeth.

In fact, if I recall correctly its the back teeth that are often in a bad way due to eating coarsy ground flour with bits of quernstone in etc and wearing them down .
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Neil of Ormsheim
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Post by Neil of Ormsheim »

Hmm......
Teeth worn down by rock dust in flour used to make breads etc.
Teeth worn down through using them to soften materials such as leather and fabrics.
Slots worn in teeth through repeated pulling of fibres between them.
Teeth broken/damaged in the rough and tumble of every-day living and playing.
Pipe slots in teeth from tobacco inclusive periods.
Teeth damaged when, in a desperate attempt not to die, one uses them as a parrying device :shock:

One of my biggest problems is that I have quite a few fillings, mercury almalgum (grey), and I have to point this out to people who want to take extreme close up photographs...... :oops:
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Post by Ellen Gethin »

I lost a front tooth in the middle of a show last year!
Fortunately it didn't hurt at all, so I could carry on until I could get to my own dentist.
I'd like to be able to say it was knocked out in combat - but the truth is that I was biting into a piece of venison, and it just came off! 'Bambi's revenge', they called it.
It took quite a while for the new tooth to be made and in the meantime I was going into schools to be a Viking - where the first thing I usually said was something along the lines of "Look, children, the Vikings don't have denstists."
I haven't decided yet whether to wear the false one, or take it out, in shows this coming year - I think it depends how much it would gross out various members of the group.
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Post by m300572 »

Bob's right about excavated skeletons often having good sets of teeth - I have lifted a few in my time that I would have been happy to swap my own teeth with. In fact, one site I worked on we had a few burials where all that was left of the body was the teeth - a bit like excavating the Cheshire Cat's smile! :shock:
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Post by Wim-Jaap »

hmmmz hard for me... full dental prostetics.

and no I ain't gonna leave em out... that's too hard with eating.... don't want to eat porridge all day.

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PrincessOracle
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Post by PrincessOracle »

Ha! Another recondite topic to research and impress (read: bore) my friends with.

Zachos and Cat: I hadn't thought about damage due to injury (you can tell I work a desk job), but I can see the appeal of baring a grin like this at the approaching enemy.

Cavities may have been much less common, but when they happened, wouldn't they usually have gone untreated, barring places where bow drills were used, until extraction was necessary? Notwithstanding a tooth-friendly diet and personal hygiene, gappiness and general dental grunginess must have been pretty common.

It would be tempting to dress up in a ravishing bliaut and theatrical tooth stain and go around grinning at everyone like Mrs. Miggins. Maybe it's a reaction against my American background -- all those years of Hollywood History where only baddies have less-than-perfect teeth... and women always have makeup on (even Massachusetts Puritans and respectable Victorian ladies) and 100% hair-free armpits, even if it's 650 AD, a desert island or apocalyptic London without any running water.

Susannah
(whose teeth are by now more a product of the dentist's art than of nature, and who is profoundly grateful to be modern)

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Post by m300572 »

Dental pathology is an interesting archaeological subject - and there are some real horrors in terms of absess holes in jaws, some of which may have caused the death of the owners through spreading infection. There is a reference somewhere to someone having died of the toothache so I suspect that it may have been one of these (although if the absess resolves, that is creates a leak through the gum into the mouth then it can drain itself, unpleasant and leads to terrible breath but it reduces the pain - some personal experience on this one!).

The Robert the Bruce statue at Bannockburn has a face modelled on his skull, which was missing the canines - just an interesting dental fact.
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Post by lucy the tudor »

There was a lecture at the Mary Rose Anniversary of Raising lecture series, by the team that had studied the teeth of the sailors. It was fascinating, and I agree with m300572 that some of them were so good I would merrily swap. there were one or two with scary abscess damage too. They looked at them in the way such things should be done- took them back to the professor's back garden and worked on them by the shed, and on the dining room table if i remember rightly- must consult my notes.
If anything it seems Neil of Ormsheim is right, it is our fillings which let us down, not our lack of gappiness.
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Post by dottyspots »

Annis wrote:I once damaged a tooth when pulling a needle through a very tight aiglet.... :oops:
I have a chip out of my right front tooth from pulling a needle through denim (not a good idea :oops: ), it's been filed a bit and isn't hugely obvious though (this was when I still had access to a dentist - can't get in with one on NHS at all locally). I used to open bottles of beer with my teeth as well and some of the enamel off a side tooth - but aside from that I have all straight. My main concern is that I end up being involved with pre-specs era and having to get some contact lenses :roll:


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Post by Marcus Woodhouse »

Take the candle made of muttoned wax and mixed with seed of sea holly. Place the burning part against the infected tooth as colose and for as long as possible while holding beneath a pan of cold water and the worms that gnaw at the tooth will drop into the water to escpae the heat of the candle.

Works for me everytime. :cry:
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Post by jim-m »

It's bad for me, I have two gold teeth at the front of my lower jaw. They are hard to disguise

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bournio
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Post by bournio »

I've got wonky teeth... I don't particularly care, i can still bite or chew... it's from me using my mouth to hold all sorts of things... pulling rope with my teeth was possibly the stupidest! I've not got braces, never had them... i think it'd be quite a major job to straighten them all out anyway!
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Post by frances »

I've got crinkley-edged front teeth from biting off sewing cotton when I was a child. Looks very authentic as a lower-class person. Some of my mercury fillings have now been replaced by more modern teeth-coloured fillings, but not all of them.

I have a wonderful book on the history of dentistry. When I give costume talks to the general public I often throw in a few quotes to make them cringe a bit. I forget now in which era they used soot to clean their teeth - but that always gets a good groan.

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Post by RottenCad »

Well, I have seven teeth missing (to be pedantic, I have three gaps where seven teeth used to be), and symetrically chipped incisors through two separate swimming pool incidents three years apart. This gives me the result that I'm far happier to grin in the c14 than the c21!

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ViscontesseD'Asbeau
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Post by ViscontesseD'Asbeau »

And there's the option of white fillings now.

I have a drop dead huge amalgam filing but it's right at the back, so probably OK. Made sure all my front fillings are white, though.

Re: authenti-damage.... There's also that typical wear on flax spinners' teeth - little groove. And clay pipe smokers' damage. Think it goes a bit far worrying about it - unless you have a big gangsta rapper style filling at the front.

For those of you with a full set of falsies... there used to be an 18thC or 19thC (forget) set of WOODEN false teeth in Scarboro Museum. Any of the woodworkers fancy making a set of gnashers?

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Post by frances »

I have a fantastic satire of a Regency dentist's salon. Going out of one doorway is a poor girl, who, by the way she is holding her mouth, has just had her tooth removed for some money to buy food. In a comfortable chair nearby is a posh lady waiting for the extracted tooth to be inserted into her jaw.

Walrus tusk tooth anyone, or how about a set carved out of ivory?

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ViscontesseD'Asbeau
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Post by ViscontesseD'Asbeau »

Found this today (Can you tell I'm meant to be sewing?:wink: ):

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6875436/

And:

http://www.helium.com/items/446403-hist ... alse-teeth

The ones I saw in Scarborough were carved from a solid block of wood. I think.

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Post by m300572 »

there used to be an 18thC or 19thC (forget) set of WOODEN false teeth in Scarboro Museum.
http://ads.ahds.ac.uk/catalogue/library/cba/rr86.cfm

Section 4 on Dental Health and various materials for false teeth, varyingfrom gold, through hippo ivory to "Waterloos" in 18th C London - this is the reprot on the Crypt excavations at Christ Church Spitalfields.
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she2dd5
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Post by she2dd5 »

jim-m wrote:It's bad for me, I have two gold teeth at the front of my lower jaw. They are hard to disguise
I would have thought gold teeth were likely to be more authentic for most periods than amalgam fillings.
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Post by gregory23b »

"I would have thought gold teeth were likely to be more authentic for most periods than amalgam fillings."

Such as?
middle english dictionary

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ViscontesseD'Asbeau
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Post by ViscontesseD'Asbeau »

From a site re dentistry in the American Civil War which seems to imply fillings were a largely 19thC thing:

http://www.fauchard.org/publications/hi ... 6_2p71.htm
There were two classic dental texts used during the Civil War by dentists of both the North and South. They were J. Taft's 1859 A Practical Treatise on Operative Dentistry' and Chapin A. Harris's 1863 The Principles and Practice of Dental Surgery.10

According to these texts and a discussion of them in a subsequent publication,11 simple metallic fillings were being placed and had been placed since the early 19th century. This process consisted of rolling the metal between one's fingers into a pellet larger than the cavity to be filled. The pellet was then condensed into place by one or two straight instruments and then shaped and polished with a burnisher. According to the above sources, a variety of dental materials were used during the war. Materials, such as lead, gold, tin, platinum, silver, aluminum, and amalgam, were placed in the form of pellets.

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Post by Theotherone »

I lost a tooth on both pregnancies - just crumbled away eating a fruit pastile on my daughter and some meat on my son.

I regularly use them as tools for things my hands can't cope with so there are numerous bits of enamel damage.

I've been known at times of extreme poverty to use pliers and artery forceps to remove chunks which seem to be responsible for the pain/swelling.

But I always remember the ex-boyfriend whose great (great-great?) grandma had all her teeth removed as a wedding present.
Because there would have to be three of them.

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behanner
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Post by behanner »

Blood Red Roses has great details on the teeth of those in the mass grave at Towton. Great glimpse at sets of men's teeth that we know they were likely healthy before they were killed.

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