(WYTV)- Did our first president ever wear false wooden teeth? And, if not, where did that idea come from? George Washington suffered from dental issues throughout his life, but his dentures were not made of wood. Despite popular belief, Washington's dentures were crafted from various materials such as gold leaf, lead plates, hippopotamus ivory, and even the teeth of enslaved people. This revelation sheds light on the grim reality of dental practices during that era.
We have all heard the tales about George Washington chopping down a cherry tree, throwing a silver dollar across the Potomac River, and his wooden teeth. However, these stories are nothing more than myths. In reality, Washington's teeth were not made out of wood, but by the time he was inaugurated as president, he only had a single natural tooth left in his mouth. His dentures, although not wooden, were far from comfortable or reliable.
When George Washington opened his mouth 225 years ago this Wednesday at New York's Federal Hall to take the oath as the first president of the United States, he did so with the aid of dentures. These dentures, made from a combination of materials, were a necessity for Washington due to his dental problems. The use of enslaved people's teeth in the construction of his dentures raises ethical questions and highlights the dark history associated with dental care during that time.