George Washington experienced problems with his teeth throughout his adult life. Although he regularly used dental powders and a toothbrush similar to our own his tooth loss persisted. By time he took the oath of office as president at age 57, he was wearing full dentures. Washington's dentures represented the latest advancements in dental technology. Contrary to popular myth, his false teeth were not made of wood but of human and cow teeth as well as elephant and walrus ivory. They required frequent adjusting to function naturally and he repeatedly sent them to John Greenwood, his dentist in New York City, for repairs. For a person as conscious of his appearance as Washington, his dental dilemma caused him great discomfort.
Purchase, 1949 [W-1520/A-B]