And yet, no dentist bothered to examine her.
Perhaps Ms. Killebrue’s dental grievances were initially ignored because she was over 100 years old and already a resident of the county sanitarium for more than six years. She was so old, in fact, that no one could verify her true age (not even herself), though several stated that she had passed the centenarian mark several years prior. The newspaper article about her stated that she had “no conception of her age,” but it is believed that she was a grandmother before the start of the Civil War.
So maybe, just maybe, Ms. Killebrue’s advanced age combined with the feeble state of her physical and mental health were the reasons the doctors ignored her continuous moans about toothaches.
Maybe…but probably not.
Likely the real reason doctors ignored Charity Killebrue’s complaints of tooth pain was that Ms. Killebrue had no teeth and hadn’t had teeth for many years.
But the grand old woman kept up her persistent pleas, so on March 11, 1909, Dr. L. E. Young, county physician, examined her, and much to his surprise, found that Ms. Killebrue was actually growing new teeth…her third set! Despite the fact that Ms. Killebrue had lost all her baby teeth and adult teeth many years earlier, she had three brand new chompers pushing their way up from her lower jaw.
The condition, called hyperdontia or supernumerary teeth, is a real condition, though quite rare. Paducahans were so amazed that it made the front page, with the Sun stating that this was the “first time that anyone in Paducah has been blessed with a third set of teeth.”
For more about historically abnormal dental conditions, visit us in Local and Family History Department at the McCracken County Public Library. And if you like this story, make sure to “like” our Facebook page.