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Teeth extracted from the fallen at Waterloo used for dentures

By Tim Sandle     Jun 20, 2015 in Odd News
Waterloo - There's lots around at the moment about the Battle of Waterloo, to mark the 200th anniversary. While armies fought tooth and nail, it seems that there was a secondary use for the teeth of dead soldiers: dentures for the rich.
The Battle of Waterloo was one of four titanic battles fought between France and a group of allied countries, including The Netherlands, Prussia and Britain (officially the "Seventh Coalition".) Much of the bicentenary focuses on the showdown between the Duke of Wellington, Arthur Wellesley and Gebhard von Blücher, who led the allied forces; and Napoléon Bonaparte who led the opposing French armies. The battle was fought at Waterloo, then part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands (now Belgium) on June 18, 1815.
The numbers of fallen are difficult to estimate. Historians generally put the figures as 22,000 on the allied side and 26,000 on the French side. The allies won, although the balance of the dead made it more of a Pyrrhic victory. Wellington apparently said at the end, when his and von Blücher forces' had won "Nothing except a battle lost can be half as melancholy as a battle won."
Before the fallen were buried (with full-honors or into mass graves, depending upon rank) a use was found for the bodies of some of the lost. In 1815, BBC History reports, dentistry was not a particularly well advanced medical profession. It also stood that the rich in England had very bad teeth. This was due to the now understandable relationship between high sugar consumption and not brushing teeth.
As a result of rotting teeth, richer people tended to purchase dentures (the poor, in such circumstances, had to make do with their raw gums.) The fallen at Waterloo provided rich pickings for the manufactures of dentures. People were hired to collect teeth from the battlefield and proto-dentists constructed dentures and sold these to the richer members of Georgian society.
This information has come via Rachel Bairsto, curator of British Dental Association's museum in central London. At the time the term "Waterloo teeth" was commonly used to describe the assortment of teeth and dentures flooding in from mainland Europe to English genteel society.
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