Did George Washington Really Have Wooden Teeth?

I thought it was fitting to share this bit of information on Presidents Day because it is actually the celebration of George Washington’s birthday. Growing up, I heard stories of George Washington having wooden teeth and I believe that perhaps parents came up with this myth at a PTA meeting to make sure they were all of the same page when it came to getting their kids to not eat candy and brush their teeth. They would say things like “if you keep eating, you will end up like George Washington with ALL WOODEN TEETH.” And yes, the thought of that is quite scary to a kid who thinks braces are bad enough.

Truth be told, George did have false teeth, but they were not made of wood. According to anthropologists, his false teeth (dentures) were made of gold, ivory, lead, human and animal teeth (horse and donkey teeth were common components). YIKES! I guess telling your kids that would be just as bad – especially the part about other human a donkey teeth. And lead? I guess they didn’t have the data that we have today, but of course there are those who still use mercury which is quite toxic.

According to this article, you can see a set of GW’s dentures at Mount Vernon or the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery.  The website also features a picture of George Washington’s dentures.

February 15, 2010

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