The claim that President George Washington has wooden teeth is one of the most well-known dental myths of all time. While it is nothing more than an untrue myth, the first president of the United States was certainly not the golden boy of proper dental hygiene. In fact, poor dental health plagued Washington for the majority of his adult life; and he was only in his early twenties when he started losing his teeth.
So, What Were His Teeth Made Out Of?
In time, Washington lost all of his teeth and was forced to were dentures that were both visually unappealing and painful. These dentures, however, were not made out of wood. Washington's false choppers were made out of a collection of human teeth, metal fasteners, and hippopotamus ivory.
George Washington ended up with his first set of dentures just before the Revolutionary War. There is also reason to believe he may have received a tooth transplant procedure. Rumor has it some of the human teeth used to make his dentures were likely purchased from his slaves. By the time Washington was inaugurated as the first President of the United States, there was only a single natural tooth left inside of his mouth.
Who Were His Dentists?
Dr. John Baker is recognized as one of the first dentists who provided Washington with dental care. He was an English-trained dentist and may have very well been the first professionally trained dentist in the United States.
Dr. Jean-Pierre Le Mayeur was actually French-born and originally dentist to Sir Henry Clinton back in 1781. Le Mayeur overhead a very rude conversation regarding the alliance between the French and the Americans that made him angry enough to pack up his bags and move to the enemy's camp. This was the point in time where he offered his dental services to George Washington. Le Mayeur is the dentist who is believed to have transplanted real human teeth from Washington's slaves into Washington's mouth.
His Wife Wore Dentures Too
While Martha Washington did not have the same dental woes as her husband, she did end up losing her teeth and wearing a set of her own dentures by George Washington's second presidential term.
As you can see, George Washington was not walking around with a set of wooden teeth as the famous dental myth leads many to believe. However, he did wear dentures and played a key role in dental history.
Fortunately, present-day dental procedures are significantly less painful. Schedule an appointment at a local dental office, such as Health Centered Dentistry, to avoid having teeth like George Washington's.