Dentistry, as we know it today, was in its infancy in 1815, and the mouths of the elite were decaying. Sugar intake was rising among the wealthy, and early attempts to whiten teeth with acidic solutions broke down the enamel. Teeth were being extracted at a rapid rate, the market for dental implants was expanding and the economy was thriving.
Cartoons from the same era also show the poorest members of society having their teeth pulled out. For the benefit of more affluent dental patients, they were live donors.
Poor people were paid to have their good teeth taken so that they could be placed right away into the jaws of wealthier, elderly patients whose own teeth had already been extracted due to deterioration. The procedure lost favor since it had a number of drawbacks. Furthermore, the transplanted tooth could spread syphilis, and long-term success was extremely unusual.
The desire for dental prosthetics and the rise of tooth recycling during the 18th and 19th centuries threatened dentistry's reputation. Following the Battle of Waterloo, it reached the height of its popularity.
People used teeth removed from animals, slaughtered criminals, and excavated remains as dentures when artificial materials (such as mineral teeth or dentures carved out of ivory or bone) proved useless for chewing and speech.
The Battle of Waterloo, which took place on June 18, 1815, is one of the most well-known events that gave people teeth for effective dentures. Napoleon and the Duke of Wellington both led opposing armies in battle. Scavengers stole the deceased soldiers' possessions, including their teeth, once the conflict was over.
Looters were drawn to the possibility of finding thousands of British, French, and Prussian teeth in the recently dead soldiers' jaws at Waterloo. Surviving soldiers, villagers, as well as scavengers who had traveled from Britain, ripped out the teeth with pliers.
These teeth would be purchased by dentists to make dentures. These dentures were later known as the "Waterloo teeth". The "Waterloo teeth" are dentures that were created using the teeth of soldiers who lost their lives at the Battle of Waterloo.