As one of the Founding Fathers of the United States and the nation’s first president, George Washington has been the subject of much mythologizing. The cherry tree he supposedly chopped down as a child, for example, is the stuff of legend, as are his supposed wooden dentures.
Dentures are among the oldest dental treatments, and they had already been used for centuries in Washington’s day (1732-1799). But dentures were also relatively slow to evolve, and in the 1700s dentures were still crude devices that looked unsightly and had to be replaced frequently.
Although Washington brushed his teeth, the importance of dental hygiene was not well understood in the 18th century, and Washington—like many others—suffered from early tooth decay and other oral health problems. By the time he assumed the presidency at age 57, Washington had full upper and lower dentures.
The Truth about Washington’s False Teeth
Washington wore several sets of dentures during his life, one of which is on display at the historic Mount Vernon, Virginia, estate of Washington. None was made of wood.
How the story of Washington’s alleged wooden false teeth arose is unknown, but a recent Snopes.com report about George Washington’s dentures suggests the myth may have been based on how the dentures looked. The dentures exhibited at Mount Vernon are crafted from metal, ivory, and human and animal teeth. Indeed, dentures of Washington’s era often employed teeth from livestock and people, or bone shaped into teeth-like forms.
Of course, teeth—especially when removed from the mouth—become discolored with time, and Washington’s dentures may have appeared brownish and mottled, like wood. Washington also had a fondness for Madeira, a dark, fortified wine that may have contributed to teeth discoloration and accentuated thin fractures and lines in his false teeth.
Dentures have come a long way, particularly in recent decades. Modern dentures are more comfortable, more natural looking, and provide more functionality than those of generations past.
At the forefront of today’s dentures is the Denture Fountain of Youth®, also known as FOY Dentures®. These implant-supported dentures offer superior fit and bite function because they are custom designed for your unique facial structure using the principals of neuromuscular dentistry.
FOY Dentures® are anchored with tiny posts similar to dental implants. This supplies the dentures with exceptional stability and durability, and it helps support facial tissue by preventing bone deterioration.
If you’re considering treatment to replace missing teeth, Austin, Texas, dentist Dr. Dan Matthews can help you determine the most effective option based on your individual condition. To learn more about your options or to schedule your personal consultation, please call our Bee Cave Road office at 512-452-2273.