Did George Washington Have Wooden Teeth?
George Washington didn’t have wooden teeth, but he did have dentures (made of materials such as ivory) that may have appeared “wooden” from staining.
This video discusses George Washington’s teeth and even shows off a pair of dentures he actually owned. Interestingly, the dentures are made of cows teeth and human teeth.
The History of George Washington’s Teeth
The myth about George Washington’s wooden teeth has persisted since the first U.S. President’s lifetime. The truth is that George Washington actually had a lot of dental trouble and did have dentures. In fact, according to the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association he had only one natural tooth by the time he gave his First Inaugural Address in 1789.
George Washington’s dentures were not made from wood (as it wasn’t commonly used at the time), but rather he had dentures composed of a variety of materials including ivory, gold, lead, cows teeth, and even real human teeth. Washington’s oral hygiene and his eating and drinking habits would leave them stained. This is perhaps what started the wooden teeth rumor.
Letters sent from Washington’s dentist John Greenwood also help to prove that Washington did indeed have dentures that weren’t made from wood. A letter sent to Washington from Greenwood read, “the sett you sent me from Philadelphia … was very black … Port wine being sower takes of[f] all the polish.”