Revolutionary, Silversmith, And A Dentist, Too.

Posted on in Educational
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J. D. Copley’s famous portrait of Paul Revere.

You’re probably familiar with the Paul Revere of our history books.

His participation in the Boston Tea Party. His midnight ride. His excellence as a silversmith. His position in the history of the American Revolution. Did you know, though, that he was also a dentist?

From 1768 to about 1775, Revere was known for cleaning teeth and creating false teeth carved from walrus ivory or other animal teeth. He would wire these false teeth into his patient’s mouths. It was this wiring system, in fact, that led to Revere being the first to use dental forensics to identify human remains.

Maj. Gen. Joseph Warren, the man who had commanded Revere to go on that famous midnight ride, was killed in the Battle of Bunker Hill in 1775. He was buried in a common mass grave near Boston. The next year, his family and others wanted to re-inter his remains in an individual grave. Revere was able to identify Warren because he recognized the wires that he had used to install false teeth in Warren.

So, the next time you think of Paul Revere, think of him as more than a man riding a horse and sounding a warning. He was also an expert metal worker, dentist, and, ultimately, a pioneer in forensic dentistry.