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George Washington did not have wooden teeth. His dental problems began in his early twenties, when he was elected at the age of fifty-seven in 1789 he only had one real tooth remaining1. The dentures he wore during the inauguration were made by Dr. John Greenwood known has the "Father of Modern Dentistry, carved from hippopotamus ivory and gold. One of these sets was donated to the University of Maryland Dental School in Baltimore, who in turn donated the upper denture to the Smithsonian in 1976. The dentures were stolen at a storage facility and never recovered; the bottom denture is housed at the George Washington Gallery inside The Dr. Samuel D. Harris National Museum of Dentistry. The "Greenwood Dentures" are the most famous created for the President; four of these remain to this day. Three other sets are also all lower dentures located at the New York Academy of Medicine, at the Mt. Vernon Visitors Center and a small segment on display at the Royal London Hospital and Archives and Museum. This where is it gets tricky, many different people made or adjusted dentures for Washington. Dr, Greenwood was just the most famous. Here is a direct quote from the fine folks at Mt. Vernon

Washington had several different sets of dentures, only one of which is still complete - and the complete set is here at Mount Vernon. Our set is made from human & cow teeth and elephant ivory, set in a lead base, with heavy metal springs. Because of the way they would have fit within his mouth, we do not believe that Washington wore this set when eating or talking. They were probably entirely "ornamental," for occasions like making silent ceremonial appearances or having his portrait painted.

He also owned other, more "functional" dentures, which could have been worn while eating or talking.

During the last ten years of Washington's life (1789-1799), a highly respected New York dentist, Dr. John Greenwood, made for the president at least two complete denture sets and several partial sets. In addition, in 1796 a man named James Gardette made Washington a set of dentures from hippopotamus ivory.

The story of wooden teeth is interesting but alas according to Steve Swank the curator of the National Museum of Dentistry no proof of wooden teeth ever being made in America exists. This is just one of the fanciful myths about the first President of the United States.

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