Were They Really Wooden Teeth?

It is assumed that Washington wore wooden dentures, but this is a myth.is

Did George Washington Wear Wooden Dentures?

Here’s a quick history question – What were George Washington’s dentures made of?

If you said “wood,” you gave the popular answer, but not the correct one. The first President of the United States only had one tooth in his mouth when he took office at the age of 57, so he wore a full set of dentures, but those fake teeth definitely didn’t come from a tree.

President Washington’s dental problems began early and they were a life-long struggle for him. He had his first tooth extracted at the age of 24, and throughout his life suffered from mouth pain, infections, gum disease, the eventual loss of all his teeth and ill-fitting dentures. He employed a variety of medications, denture files, solutions, scrapers and brushes to deal with his dental problems.

How did the Washington wooden denture rumor start? Most likely from a misinterpretation of the stains on his dentures. Over the course of his adult life and presidency, President Washington wore false teeth made from the materials available at that time, which were a combination of human teeth (from other humans), possibly hippopotamus teeth and ivory, or ivory from walruses or elephants, lead-tin alloy, copper alloy and silver alloy. That’s quite a mouthful.

Because George Washington had a love of Madeira wine — a very dark red variety — in time the hairline fractures in his bone and ivory dentures became stained. The patterns in these fractures resembled grains in wood, so it was mistakenly assumed they were made from wooden materials. Wood, although easy to carve, would not have made for a durable chewing surface, and was not the denture material of Washington’s day.

The incorrect assumption that George Washington wore wooden dentures persists down to our day. What doesn’t have to persist is the woes and pains and tooth loss our first President suffered throughout his life. By starting early with home dental care, regular visits to the dentist, and repairing problems promptly, you don’t need to have a pained smile like the man on our dollar bill. Make your appointment soon and visit the thoroughly modern offices of the Sacramento Dentistry Group. By George, we do our best to keep you smiling.

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