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Dentures found at Shiloh

Stan Hutson
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Located at the Smithsonian.  The upper palate appears to be made of silver and it has eight porcelain or mineral tube teeth. Each tooth has a "central canal" which is secured to the palate with pins. Two teeth are missing.  The museum's dental collection has dozens of dentures made from these exact materials. What makes this denture interesting are the two inscriptions: In pencil or ink on the top of the palate it reads, "FOUND AT SHILOH BATTLEFIELD"; and etched into the bottom of the palate "FOUND AT BATTLE OF SHILOH".  

The denture was given to the museum in 1969 by dentist D.L. Crowson of Petal, Mississippi. In a letter to Curator Audrey Davis, Dr. Crowson wrote, "I have no history on this denture except I was told by the person who gave it to me that it had been picked up on the Shiloh battlefield site".

When the Civil War began in 1861, there were few university-trained dentists on either side of the conflict. However, just as now, people suffered from tooth decay diseases that made dentistry as essential on the battlefield as on the home front. The surgical sets supplied to Union surgeons included dental tools for the extraction of teeth. Many of the soldiers who participated in the Battle of Shiloh had probably lost a tooth at some point in their lives, but false teeth would have been relatively rare, especially a denture of this quality.

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From the album:

Shiloh; Photographs at Shiloh and relics of the battle

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