George Washington’s Teeth

Well this is one dental story you all must heard about if you have not already read it. It is about George Washington’s wooden teeth. Did he really have wooden teeth or there is more to the story that we now know. Let us find out. Before we go to the man’s teeth let us briefly check out something about the man in question. If you don’t already know who George Washington was let us provide you a little trivia about him.

Trivia about George Washington

  • He was the first President of the United States of America.
  • He took over the office in 1789 and served as a US President till 1797. He was elected twice to the office of President and served both terms.
  • His picture appears $1 bill and the quarter coin.
  • He led America’s victory over the British in the American Revolutionary War.
  • The Confederate Seal features him.
  • Washington D.C and Washington State are named after him.
  • He is one of the faces of the Mount Rushmore.
  • He is one of the founding fathers of the USA and rightly called the Father of the Nation.

A little background of George Washington

He was born in a wealthy businessman family and grew up to join the army. He had very little interest in politics in the initial years of his life. He was businessman who owned a lot of land and slaves. It was only in 1755 that he ran for a seat in the house which he lost. It was in his second attempt in 1757-58 that he won the seat from Frederick County.

George Washington Teeth Wooden myth

He suffered from poor dental health during his adulthood. From his twenties he experienced toothaches, decay and loss of teeth. He has been known to have spent a lot of time and money on relieving himself of this pain by using various dental medicines, teeth cleaners and dentures. When he was sworn in as President of the USA, he had only one tooth left. This was at the age of fifty-seven.

There has been a legend going on regarding his teeth. People believed that he had wooden teeth.  However recent information proves this to be a myth.

Dr. John Baker was the first dentist who made false teeth for George Washington. They were partial dentures which were made of ivory and fitted in with his real teeth.

This myth that Washington’s dentures were wooden was well known and also accepted by the historians. In fact it has been documented in books well into the 20th century.

The possible origin of the wooden teeth myth could be because ivory teeth can become stained easily and this may have given the appearance of wood to those who saw.

In 1780s, George Washington employed the services of a French Dentist living in America known as Jean-Pierre Le Mayeur for his dental issues. However not much is known about the services offered by him to the man who would become the first President of USA. He did however become great friends with George Washington.

After George Washington became the President, he employed a New York dentist called Dr. John Greenwood who has been known to make technologically advanced dentures for him. He used hippopotamus ivory to make the dentures and used gold wires and brass screws to hold the artificial teeth together. He took the oath of Presidency while wearing these dentures.

Some of Washington’s false teeth still exist. Part of a denture made by Greenwood is owned by the New York Academy of Medicine. The only complete set of Washington’s dentures that still survive today are preserved by George Washington’s Mount Vernon. These teeth are made of animal teeth, human teeth, lead, and ivory.

The Controversy

There has been some controversy also surrounding his teeth. It is believed that in 1784 Washington bought human teeth from some slaves. While this may appear extraordinary today, using human teeth for dentures was not totally unheard of during the time of George Washington. The poor in those times had been selling teeth as a way of making money since long and these teeth were then sold as dentures or implants to those who could afford it. Having dentures was considered a mark of wealth and only a few privileged people could afford them.

During his lifetime, George Washington had four sets of dentures. It is widely known that his dentures disfigured his mouth and often were a cause of pain. He found his ivory and metal dentures difficult to use while eating and speaking. The ivory dentures got stained very easily and quickly needing heavy maintenance such as cleaning with wax. His lips bulged unnaturally and he was conscious of this throughout his life.

Today the story about his teeth has become folk lore. But there are number of things one can learn from this story. One can see the history and evolution of usage of dentures and most importantly how having good and healthy teeth is important and also how teeth have historically played a role in defining beauty standards and affecting the confidence and self esteem of people who otherwise have been super successful in life.

All in all it helps us conclude that our teeth are precious and we need to take care of them. Our dental health is in our hands and we must not neglect it.

Call Ensure Dental Care, Saginaw Tx Dentist on 940-274-3229 for more information or to schedule an appointment. Ensure Dental Care is the one of the best family dental clinics at Saginaw Texas. We accept all major insurance providers. We also have in house payment plan. We have a very experienced team of dental practitioners and we look forward to serving you the best of our abilities.

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