"" Writer's Wanderings: George Washington's Dentures

Monday, February 22, 2010

George Washington's Dentures

No wooden teeth? Does this mean he didn't cut down the cherry tree either? Is anyone else discouraged by the discovering the falsehoods you grew up with as a child? They were nice stories, unique oddities, tales to stretch the imagination but one by one they tend to come crashing down.

The latest for me is the discovery that George Washington's dentures were never made of wood. His dentist, John Greenwood, made them of hippopotamus ivory (didn't know they had ivory), human teeth and gold. The ivory was the base. Imagine carving that to fit the gums.

Washington had several sets made as his dental problems progressed. Apparently when he was inaugurated as president, he only had one tooth left in his mouth. There is a picture of one denture along with a story at MSNBC.

If you are traveling to Baltimore and are truly interested in Washington's dentures or just want to impress your kids to keep up good dental hygiene, stop in at the National Museum of Dentistry.

I think I will pass however. I'm a realy wimp when it comes to anything to do with a dental chair and teeth--which is why I try to take good care of my teeth.
Oh, and by the way, George's birthday was actually February 11 according to the then Julian calendar but was changed to February 22 when Britain and the colonies adopted the Gregorian calendar. Ah, the things we learn. . .

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