Wednesday, January 23, 2019

The Strange Case of George Washington's Teeth

George Washington's Dentures

An unsmiling George Washington

Sometimes it is hard to think of George Washington as a man.  A marble statue…yes.  The guy on the dollar bill…yes.  But a man?  So let’s consider his aches and pains to bring him down to earth ... specifically his painful teeth.

Despite his best efforts to care for his teeth, Washington lost his first tooth at the age of twenty four.  Almost every year thereafter, Washington suffered from severe toothaches, followed by the painful extraction of the teeth.

Washington’s teeth continued to deteriorate, making it hard for him to chew without pain.  In 1773, at the age of 41, Washington wrote to a London merchant thanking him for his gift of two large stone jars of pickled tripe, which is soft and easy to eat.

By the age of 49, Washington was wearing false teeth wired to his remaining ones.  By the time he is 57, and sworn in for the first time as President of the United States, Washington has one remaining real tooth.  That year he receives the first of four full sets of dentures made by John Greenwood, fashioned from hippopotamus ivory and human teeth.

Washington owned eight sets of dentures during his lifetime.  None of these were made of wood, but all were uncomfortable, and painful to use.  The dentures distorted the look of Washington’s mouth and inhibited him from smiling.

A brief look at love, sex, and marriage in colonial America and the early republic.

A quick historical look at murder most foul in the Virginia of colonial times and the early Republic. Behind the facade of graceful mansions and quaint cobblestone streets evil lurks.

No comments: