Dental Health Topics

Giving Thanks You Didn't Need Dental Care in the 1800's

Can you imagine maintaining a 17-year letter-writing campaign to five different presidents to secure a national holiday? Sarah Josepha Hale did just that between 1846 and 1863 to secure a national Thanksgiving holiday.

Perhaps it helped that Ms. Hale was a writer by trade, because in 1863 President Abraham Lincoln, the final president to convince, agreed to support legislation ushering in the national holiday that year.

Believe it or not, there is a lot to be thankful for when it comes to your teeth as well. Times have changed a lot since 1863, not to mention since the days of the “first” Thanksgiving!

Here are our top three things to be thankful for when it comes to dental health:


If you believe having your wisdom teeth pulled was trying, imagine what it might have been like before the days of sedation!

Not until Massachusetts dentist, William Morton used anesthesia in 1846, was sedation used for tooth extraction.

By the time Lincoln was president, sedation methods were on the rise, but in the case of the Pilgrims, they would not have been as fortunate – nor, as comfortable.

Modern Orthodontics 

Orthodontics as we know it has been influenced tremendously by technology clearly not available in the time of Lincoln. While the French had been experimenting with straightening teeth in the 1700's, the results and efforts to achieve the desired result would be a far cry from the approaches used today.

No doubt teenagers around the world are thankful for this cosmetic advance!

Safer Pain Management

In the 1800's the pain blocker of choice was one still used today, morphine. Back then, however, it was used in its whole form known as laudanum. Mixed with alcohol and administered via glass or dropper, this most potent formulation required enhanced supervision to protect against accidental overdose and addiction.

With the country still amidst the turmoil of the civil war, Lincoln believed recognizing Thanksgiving as a national holiday could be a way to officially, and universally, give thanks, despite the separation of the country.

This month, let us give thanks officially, as we do each day throughout the year, for those for whom we hold dear.