There are so myths surrounding America’s first president George Washington. Each February, America remembers the classic tale of Washington chopping down a cherry or that he may have had wooden teeth. While these stories are a lot fun are they real or just folklore?
Washington had problems with his teeth throughout his entire life. By the time he took office in 1789, all of his teeth had fallen out except for one.
Washington’s dentures were made from a variety of materials, including hippopotamus ivory, gold, and lead. The ivory used in the dentures became stained over time giving them a grained and wooden appearance.
Dr. Susan Schoelwer, Curator at Mount Vernon, highlights the many interesting facets around George Washington’s dentures. Mount Vernon’s set of dentures is the only surviving full set worn by Washington.
The story of Washington and his wooden teeth demonstrate the importance of practicing good dental hygiene, including brushing and flossing and visiting your dentist every 4 or 6 months for a dental exam and cleaning. While Washington’s teeth were a constant source of discomfort and pain throughout his entire life yours don’t have to be.
For more interesting facts about George Washington visit George Washington’s Mount Vernon.
Photo of George Washington’s dentures courtesy of George Washington’s Mount Vernon.