Who Were They?

Lost and forgotten photos from the past

If you ever wondered what people with no teeth look like, well now here’s your chance to see. This lady doesn’t look happy, either. This older lady is frowning in her portrait, likely due to not having at least her front teeth to hold out her lips. Her age isn’t necessarily “old” by today’s standards either. She could be late 50s or early 60s, but in the 19th century, she could have been a great grandmother. We all know dental hygiene wasn’t at all like we know it today, and this is just one illustration of the consequences. Weirdly, since many people had dental problems, it wasn’t as shameful as it can be today. It’s almost like a stigma of ill breeding for modern people to have dental problems. In the absence of flouride and flouride toothpaste, people got cavities and lost their teeth – tooth decay doesn’t discriminate. By her attractive clothing, the subject wasn’t poor.

The photo was made by J. P. Walter at 742 Clinton Ave., N, Rochester, NY. The modern location was built in 1950, so we can’t know what it was like when this portrait was made.

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