Due to its proximity and place in the early colonies, Maryland was the home of many of the country’s earliest settlers. It’s always interesting to find evidence of just how much things have changed since the establishment of the United States, and one great way of doing that is by looking at things like actual business advertisements from 250 years ago.
The Virginia-area news source Examiner.com recently ran a piece in which they dug up some of the earliest dental advertisements, and many of them were located right here in Maryland. Here are a few of the real historic ads that some of the profession’s earliest practitioners ran in Maryland.
According to the American Dental Association, the very first medically-trained dentist to practice in the U.S. was John Baker in 1760. It wasn’t long after this that one Maryland dentist, who went only by ‘Baker,’ put an ad in The Maryland Gazette on September 16, 1773. In addition to filling hollow teeth with gold or lead, Baker also offered services to transplant natural teeth from one patient to another.
Maryland’s central location made it ideal for traveling dentists to pick up some extra business on the way up north. One of these early traveling dentists was a Dr. Fendall. While his ad stated he lived in Port Tobacco, it also mentioned he would be heading out to Baltimore soon.
Fendall also advertised a dentifrice for sale that he claimed could “restore the gums to their pristine state” and cure “scurvy of the teeth.” His ad also came with a friendly reminder that children’s teeth shouldn’t be neglected. Virtually all adults (99.7%) believe a healthy smile is socially important, according to a survey from the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, and from these ads, one can glean that this was just as important to America’s early European settlers.
Finally, the small-world existence of the era was captured perfectly in an ad that appeared on March 29, 1782, also in The Maryland Gazette. A Mr. Gilliam wrote that he would be open for business until April 5, working out of a Mr. Middleton’s house. No address was given for Middleton, suggesting everyone must have known just whom he was talking about.
Maryland has some of the richest history of all the states in the U.S., and these ads are just a glimpse into what life was like during its infant stages.