Did George Washington Have Wooden Teeth?

portrait of George Washington
  • Jan 12 2017

Fact or Myth:  Did George Washington Have Wooden Teeth?

We have all heard the story that George Washington had wooden teeth, but is it true?  Hardly.

Our former first President did suffer from many problems with his failing dental health, but he did not have wooden teeth.  So, how did this myth get started?

The most likely beginning to this myth was that the discoloration and wear on his dentures made it look like he had wood-grained teeth.  Perhaps, people perpetuated the story to make the great leader of our country more relatable to the commoners.  However, “Throughout his life Washington employed numerous full and partial dentures that were constructed of materials including bone, hippopotamus ivory, human teeth, brass screws, lead, and gold metal wire.” (The Trouble with Teeth, MountVernon.org)

Washington’s dental problems started at age 24 when he paid a dentist to remove one of his teeth; by the time of his inauguration in 1789, Washington had only 1 working tooth left.  Diary entries later on showed he suffered from aching teeth, lost teeth, inflamed gums, ill-fitting dentures, which started to reshape the structure of his face.  Washington was self-conscious about the impact the ill-fitting dentures were having on his face and often complained about it to his dentist; even artists and close observers noticed the change in his face.

We know about George Washington’s dental problems, but did you know his wife, Martha, also wore dentures?  She did not suffer from dental troubles like George, and had pretty healthy teeth for most of her life, but later in life she required dentures.  Because of George’s dental troubles, she urged her children and grandchildren to take care of her teeth.

Let’s take a cue from Martha, and take care of our teeth now, today, so we don’t have suffer later in life.  Brush and floss your teeth regularly and visit me twice a year for a teeth cleaning to keep your teeth & gums healthy!


(To read more interesting facts about George Washington’s teeth & how his dental troubles lead mislead the British Army, Click Here.)



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Posted in: Dentures, General Dentistry, Hygiene, Oral Care, Restorative Dentistry