Link #162: Washington’s Dentures Had Real Horse Teeth!

Link #162: Washington’s Dentures Had Real Horse Teeth!

Chain of Facts - A Connection of Facts

Link #162: Washington’s Dentures Had Real Horse Teeth!

Horse Teeth
Image Source: Pixabay/CC0

In our last article, we spoke about the myth that the moon had a sister that orbited around the Earth on a horseshoe shaped path. The myth of 3753 Cruithne, however, was debunked soundly by modern astronomers.

Another myth that comes to mind because of the 3753 Cruithne’s horseshoe shaped orbit is that George Washington, one of the founding fathers of the nation of United States of America, had wooden dentures.

Most children in the US were taught this in school but it’s a myth that is being debunked now. Recent researches have revealed that George Washington’s teeth were never made of wood but actually comprised gold and lead along with horse and donkey teeth!

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Did George Washington Really Have Horse Teeth In His Mouth?

It’s true that George Washington had horse teeth in his mouth as a part of his dentures. In fact, this practice was very common at the time. Rich people with dental conditions would regularly buy teeth sourced from animals like horses and donkeys.

In fact, there were even some people who purchased human teeth. George Washington, himself, is known to have purchased human teeth from African Americans for 122 shillings. He described the transaction in his own account books.

The secret of animal teeth being used in George Washington’s dentures was revealed when forensic anthropologists conducted laser scans on one of Washington’s dentures.

The process was done at the Dental Museum which is associated with the Smithsonian Institution. The scans found that George Washington’s dentures were made up of horse and donkey teeth, lead, gold, and ivory. Since ivory is another name for animal teeth, it’s possible that these dentures had other animals’ teeth as well.

How Did The George Washington Wooden Denture Myth Come About?

There isn’t any clear evidence of how the myth that George Washington had wooden teeth came about. However, according to many historians and dental experts, this myth was a result of how Washington’s ivory based dentures looked after getting stained.

Supposedly, even though Washington was very particular about dental hygiene, he couldn’t really keep his dentures from getting stained. As his dentures became stained into a brownish and grainy colour, they started looking like they were made of wood. This is probably where this myth came about.

Associated with this myth is another myth that Washington carved his own dentures out of wood with his own hands. None of Washington’s false teeth were ever made of wood.

However, time to time, Washington did work on his own dentures to fix minor issues. This could be the source of the myth that Washington carved his dentures with his own hands.

Washington’s Dentures Once Mislead the British Army!

Washington’s Yorktown campaign was crucial to the American victory over the British army. However, what you may not know is that the American success in this campaign was an indirect result of Washington’s dentures.

The story goes that a personal letter from Washington to his dentist was intercepted by the British army. The letter stated that Washington will not be in Philadelphia so his dentures must be sent to New York.

The British believed this and chose to not reinforce their army in Yorktown, Philadelphia. Washington changed his plans to attack Yorktown and ended up defeating the British there!




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Sources:

http://www.dakotadental.com/did-george-washington-really-have-wooden-teeth/
http://www.mountvernon.org/george-washington/the-man-the-myth/the-trouble-with-teeth/
http://www.mountvernon.org/research-collections/digital-encyclopedia/article/false-teeth/
http://www.mountvernon.org/research-collections/digital-encyclopedia/article/wooden-teeth-myth/

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