Civil War Era Dental Kit -Dental health in the mid-1800s was not a common priority, and most civilians only visited a dentist to have troublesome teeth extracted. When the Civil War began in 1861, good dental health, in addition to being between the ages of 17 - 45, was surprisingly a requirement of recruits for both sides of the conflict. Dentists who were enlisted as soldiers of either army often kept their tools on hand to be of service wherever necessary. A lack of formal dental care in the Union Army forced field surgeons to practice dentistry in the field, whereas in the Confederate Army, civilian dentists were hired under contract or trained soldiers were supplemented with extra supplies, pay, and rankings as hospital stewards.
As troublesome as it may be to imagine, Union soldiers were only required to have six opposing upper and lower front teeth to become servicemen while Confederate soldiers were only required to have four opposing front teeth. As battles waged forward and drafts increased, men often removed their own front teeth to avoid enlistment. This problem became so severe that army surgeons eventually refused to exempt soldiers whose mouths showed obvious signs of recent extractions.
The availability of supplies came to be the greatest difference in overall soldier health. During the height of the Civil War, typical daily dental practices could include twenty to thirty cavity fillings, the extraction of fifteen to twenty teeth, and the removal of cumbersome tartar — all without the use of anesthesia. Because of Northern blockades, Confederate supplies dwindled and access to basic materials was severely affected. Gold foil, the preferred filling material at the time, became so scarce and extremely expensive that dentists on either side of the Mason-Dixon Line were reduced to using cheaper, more available materials such as tin, amalgams (mercury alloys), and even asbestos.
Extremely rare dental kit includes nine implements.
Inventory Number: MED 068