Primary Source References[1]

1772 April 14. "Pd. Baker the dentist 30/."[2]

1772 April 27. "Pd. Mrs. Rathall for 6 tooth-picks 1/3."[3]

1776 November 10. "Pd. Baker the dentist 40/."[4]

1785 January 5. (Jefferson to David Humphreys). "I will therefore proceed to avail myself of your kind offer of executing commissions for me in London...1/2 dozen tooth brushes, the hair neither too strong nor too weak, without spunges...A silver tooth pick case, the smallest possible..."[5]

1789 August 19. "Pd. Jourdan dentist 48."[6]

1793 November 13. "Pd. Gilliams drawing a tooth 4.66.[7]

1793 November 20. "Pd. Gilliams dentist 2.33."[8]

1803 March 5. "Pd. Bruff dentist 5.D."[9]

1805 January 14. "Inclosed to Dr. Bruff dentist 10.D."[10]

1807 December 29. (Jefferson to Martha Jefferson Randolph). "I was taken with a tooth-ache about 5. days ago, which brought on a very large and hard swelling of the face, and that produced a fever which left me last light. The swelling has subsided sensibly, but whether it will terminate without suppuration is still uncertain."[11]

1808 January 5. (Jefferson to Martha Jefferson Randolph). "My fever left me the day I wrote to you, and the swelling abated through the whole face, but still remains in a knot as big as a pigeon's egg, over the diseased tooth, which has now been suppurating so long that the Doctr. thinks he shall have to extract the tooth (altho' perfectly sound) to prevent a caries of the bone."[12]

1808 January 12. (Jefferson to Ellen Wayles Randolph Coolidge). "My letters to your Mama will have informed you of my having been indisposed with a swelled face. It rose, suppurated, and has left me with a hard swelling still on the jawbone, which however I am in hopes will go down. It still confines me to the house for fear cold should affect it."[13]

1808 February 23. (Jefferson to Ellen Wayles Randolph Coolidge). "A small knot remains on the bone, which enlarged considerably on my riding out on a raw day lately. By keeping house a few days it is again reduced to a small size."[14]

1808 November 30. "Borrowd. of Le Maire 5.D. & pd. Dr. Bruff extractg. a tooth 5.D."[15]

1808 December 6. (Jefferson to Martha Jefferson Randolph). "I have been confined to the house these 3. weeks with a swelled face. For 4. or 5. days I suffered much, but was relieved by a suppuration and have since been able to extract the tooth. There is too much swelling still to go out, but I hope to be able to take my usual rides in 3. or 4. days more.[16]

1824 July 18. (Jefferson to Charles Willson Peale). "...I am particularly happy in that not needing your porcelain teeth. I have lost one only by age, the rest continuing sound."[17]


  1. Please note that this list should not be considered comprehensive.
  2. MB, 1:288.
  3. Ibid, 1:289.
  4. Ibid, 1:427.
  5. PTJ, 9:152.
  6. MB, 1:742.
  7. Ibid, 2:904.
  8. Ibid, 2:905.
  9. Ibid, 2:1093.
  10. Ibid, 2:1144.
  11. Family Letters, 317.
  12. Ibid, 319.
  13. Ibid, 321.
  14. Ibid, 330.
  15. MB, 2:1235.
  16. Family Letters, 368.
  17. Library of Congress. http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=mtj1&fileName=mtj1page054.db&recNum=685

Further Sources



It’s nice to know that Jefferson had to take care of his teeth, just like the rest of us!

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