George Washington’s Dentures | Delmarva Dental Services

George Washington’s Dentures

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One of the myths about George Washington was that he had wooden denture teeth. Although George never had wooden teeth, he may have wished he had due to toothaches that occurred throughout his life. George knew the importance of good dental hygiene, brushed regularly and used a mouthwash. Unfortunately, no one knew the importance of flossing and the filling of cavities was not usually done. George lost his first tooth at 22 years old and averaged about a tooth a year after that, except for the 3 or 4 teeth he lost at Valley Forge. The mercureous chloride (calomel) he received for his various illnesses of small pox, malaria, and dengue fever helped destroy his teeth. Also the abrasive tooth powder he used to brush his teeth didn’t help either. He had a scar on his left cheek caused by a draining tooth abscess. George had many types of partial and full dentures which were made of hippopotamus ivory, elephant ivory, whale bone and human teeth, all with gold fasteners & springs. None were made of wood. Many were uncomfortable and caused bulges in his lips and cheeks. He visited at least 8 different dentists in his lifetime but his favorite was Dr. John Greenwood of Philadelphia. Dr. Greenwood made several sets of dentures; the last one in 1798, the year before Washington’s death. George Washington’s lack of teeth to support his face as well as swellings can be seen in various paintings. In fact, in one of Washington’s seven portrait sittings for Rembrandt Peale, cotton was placed in his mouth to create a fuller face. Some of George Washington’s short speeches, quick temper and reluctance to smile may have been due to his tooth problems.