After watching John Adams, the HBO miniseries, sometime ago, it occurred to me how bad the people’s teeth must have been over the ages without the benefits of fluoridation of water and the modern dentistry. Even my own childhood in Germany lacked fluoride in the water, and most of my teeth had major work done by the time I was a teenager. The damage to my teeth was all done in the first 20 years of my life, what a shame.
But famously, John Adams and George Washington had miserable teeth. George Washington only had one tooth left at the end of his presidency. You can see the mess realistically in John Adams in the HBO miniseries. Toothaches were always a problem in those days and a major issue for health.
Here is a great Slate article about the subject that explains it better than I ever could.