J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Josiah Flagg, Surgeon Dentist

The Massachusetts Historical Society’s Object of the Month for this month is a 1796 broadside advertising the expert services of dentist Josiah Flagg (1763-1816). It assured Bostonians that Flagg:

Traisplants [sic] both live and dead Teeth with greater conveniency, and gives less pain than heretofore practiced in Europe or America:—Sews up Hare Lips;—Cures Ulcers;—Extracts Teeth and stumps or roots with ease;—Reinstates Teeth and Gums, that are much depreciated by nature, carelessness, acids, or corroding medicine;—Fastens those Teeth that are loose; (unless wasted at the roots) regulates Teeth from their first cutting to prevent feavers and pain in Children;—Assists nature in the extension of the jaws, for the beautiful arrangement of the second Sett and preserves them in their natural whiteness entirely free from all scorbutic complaints. . . .
I suppose if one had to have live teeth transplanted, one would want it to be done “with greater expediency.”

The broadside includes images of toothbrushes and dental tools. The reverse side includes valuable advice on dental self-care, written in Flagg’s own hand. Alas, the M.H.S. can’t shed light on why a 1795 newspaper notice referred to Flagg as a “vile miscreant Son.”

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