Did George Washington Really Wear False Teeth Made of Wood?
Stories that George Washington wore wooden false teeth aren’t true. When Washington first became president he had but one tooth left, probably because of gum disease.
As a result, he chewed his food with false teeth made from such unlikely materials as cows’ teeth, ivory, and even some human teeth, including one taken from his own mouth.
The teeth were mounted on bases made of ivory, gold, and lead. The awkward dentures explain Washington’s pouting lips, as seen on bills, and are also the reason he is never shown smiling in portraits.
The most likely, explanation given by dental scientists and historians is that the ivory employed in the dentures fabricated for Washington by dentist John Greenwood became stained over time, giving them a grained, wooden appearance that misled later observers to believe his false teeth as being crafted out of wood.