George Washington’s False Teeth: The Truth Behind the Myth

You won't believe what George Washington's false teeth were made of! Click here to discover
– George Washington had false teeth made from various materials, including ivory, gold, lead, and human teeth. He did not have wooden teeth, but he did have real hair that was not a wig. He just powdered it white to look fashionable


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For those in a hurry

  • George Washington had poor dental health and lost most of his teeth by his late twenties.
  • He had at least four sets of dentures made of various materials, including ivory, gold, lead, and human teeth.
  • He did not have wooden teeth, but he did have real hair that he powdered white to look fashionable.
  • His dentures were uncomfortable and affected his appearance and speech.
  • He bought teeth from enslaved people, but it is unclear if he used them for his dentures or for transplantation.

The Trouble with Teeth

George Washington suffered from toothaches, decay, and tooth loss since he was a young man. He had his first tooth pulled when he was 24 years old. He blamed his dental problems on cracking walnuts with his teeth, but historians think that mercury (I) chloride (calomel), a medicine he took for smallpox, may have contributed to his tooth loss.

By the time he became president in 1789, he had only one remaining natural tooth. He wore several sets of dentures throughout his life, but none of them fit well or looked natural. He was often in pain and had difficulty speaking and eating. He was very self-conscious about his appearance and tried to keep his mouth closed as much as possible.

The Materials of the Dentures

Contrary to popular belief, Washington never had wooden teeth. His dentures were made of various materials, such as hippopotamus ivory, brass, gold, lead, and human teeth. Some of the human teeth may have come from enslaved people, whom Washington paid for their teeth. However, it is not certain if he used these teeth for his dentures or for transplantation, a procedure that involved implanting a donor tooth into the recipient’s jawbone.

Washington’s dentures had metal springs and bolts to hold them together and to attach them to his remaining tooth. They were very uncomfortable and bulky, and they distorted his lips and cheeks. He had to use wax or glue to keep them in place. He also had to soak them in water to prevent them from cracking.

George Washington’s False Teeth Today

Washington’s dentures are now on display at his home, Mount Vernon, in Virginia. They are a reminder of the challenges he faced and the sacrifices he made for his country. They also show that he was a human being with flaws and vulnerabilities, not a flawless hero.