George Washington is probably the most famous wearer of dentures in history. Unfortunately, this also means that many people have developed myths and misconceptions about the father of our nation’s dentures. Fortunately, the good people at the Mount Vernon website, have cleared up many of them, allowing us to understand him and his dentures better.
Washington’s Teeth Were Never Made of Wood
George Washington owned many sets of dentures. These predated dentures made of aluminum , rubber, and porcelain , but they were never made of wood. Instead, they were made of many different materials, including brass, lead, gold, hippopotamus ivory, bone, and even human teeth.
Where did the human teeth come from? Some were his own teeth that he saved to have put in his dentures. Others were purchased from the poor, who often sold their teeth for profit, or from slaves. We’re not sure whether any of his teeth were harvested from the dead during the Revolutionary War, as the practice was less popular at this time than it became in the 19th century.
Washington Suffered Dental Trouble His Whole Life
Washington first had his first tooth extracted at the age of 24, and this was only the beginning of his dental woes. According to his diaries, letters, and expenses, he spent the rest of his life trying to deal with tooth pain, inflamed gums, lost teeth, and his poorly fitting dentures.
Washington tried everything he could to alleviate his suffering. He hired a number of dentists, many of the best on the continent, including an elite French dentist who fled New York, at that time occupied by the British, to join the Americans. He bought all the possible preventive measures, including tooth powders, toothbrushes, tooth scrapers, and more, but he was not able to save his teeth. The last was extracted at age 64.
Washington’s Dentures Gave Him Great Troubles
Although George Washington got the best possible dentures at the time, the technology was not there to give him good results.
Washington himself suffered because of his dentures. He often wrote his dentists and complained about the fit of his dentures. Not only that, but they changed the appearance of his face, which were too wide and too bulky, often causing his lips to jut out and creating a bloated appearance to his lower face. This is well captured by contemporary portraits.
His dentures also affected his ability to speak. They were uncomfortable and tended to come out, which both historians and contemporaries felt made him less likely to speak.
Many of these problems still afflict wearers of traditional dentures. Fortunately, denture technology has advanced considerably, and The Denture Fountain of Youth® allows us to make dentures that feel comfortable, look natural, preserve your face shape, and make it easy for you to talk and eat.
If you would like to learn how The Denture Fountain of Youth® can help you, please call (803) 781-9090 for an appointment with a Columbia, SC denture dentist at Smile Columbia Dentistry.