Did U.S.A. President George Washington really wear wooden false teeth?



George Washington








With recent news events regarding current US President Donald Trump and former FBI director James Comey, Griffith Street Family Dental’s Dr Rakesh Bhula was reminded of an urban myth he came across as an undergraduate at the University of Otago’s Faculty of Dentistry. It concerned US founding father and President George Washington and the claim he wore wooden false teeth.

“I remember reading of this rumour several times during my studies and thought I would now take the time to investigate it more fully” he said. The findings surprised him.

President Washington did not wear wooden false teeth, but he did have several sets of dentures that were made of rather exotic materials including- elephant and hippopotamus ivory, bone, gold, brass, lead, cow and human teeth (Washington saved his own teeth after they were pulled out, as well as purchasing ‘Negro teeth’).

It appears that the rumour of wooden teeth stems from the fact that ivory and bone naturally have hairline cracks, and this coupled with President Washington’s fondness for dark wine, stained the cracks giving the dentures a wooden appearance.

President Washington found the dentures at the time very uncomfortable to wear and bulky. This may explain why in portraits he is seen unsmiling.

GW Dentures

A set of President Washington’s dentures

Here at Griffith Street Family Dental, Dr Rakesh Bhula along with Dr Selvan Dass and Oral Health Therapist Cheryll Dunn are committed to giving all patients happy, healthy, pain free smiles.

If you have a set of ill-fitting dentures call the team today and find out what can be done to fix this. It may be as simple and easy as a quick chairside adjustment to make the denture fit more securely. In fact Dr Rakesh Bhula reported seeing a new patient yesterday with an unrelated tooth problem which was addressed. “At the appointment after fixing the problem I noticed that the patient had a loose lower partial denture. I asked her about it and she found it difficult to wear and painful. After a simple clasp adjustment the patient found the denture more securely fitting and much easier to insert and remove and she was very happy with the result” he said.

Along with our trusted specialists we work alongside, Griffith Street Family Dental can explore all options ranging from simple denture adjustments, to relining and remaking dentures, to bridgework and dental implants which can replace the need for wearing dentures entirely. Call the friendly team today on (07) 5599 4643 to find out how we can help.