Dental Health Topics

A Nursery Rhyme and a National Holiday

A Nursery Rhyme and a National Holiday

Can you imagine maintaining a 17-year letter-writing campaign to five different presidents for the sole purpose of instituting a national holiday? Sarah Josepha Hale, author of the nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” did just that between 1846 and 1863 to secure a national Thanksgiving holiday – perhaps it helped that Ms. Hale was a writer by trade!

In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln was convinced and 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 reasons to be thankful when it comes to dental health:


Imagine trying to calm a child preparing for tooth extraction in the days before sedation. Oof.

Not until Massachusetts dentist William Morton used anesthesia in 1846 was sedation used for tooth extraction. Before that, it was largely a grin-and-bear it procedure.

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 today 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 1700s, 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 1800s 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 patients ran a high risk of addiction. Certainly a worry for any adult, let alone any parent.