Washington’s Teeth

The running story on Washington’s teeth has been that they were hand-carved by the Colonial general himself.

While it’s a great story about even the most heroic of people having flaws like the rest of us, Washington’s dentures were instead many and varied.

How’s it made?

The dentures he wore were made from a variety of materials, including lead, zinc, copper, ivory, cow teeth, horse teeth, and human teeth.

In one letter, the details of General Washington’s search for human teeth came to light. He bought a total of 9 teeth from slaves for a mere 150 shillings, the equivalent of about $0.07 a tooth.

War Secret

Washington, who had lost his first tooth at 24 years old, was highly sensitive about his teeth.

He trusted correspondence with his dentist as state secrets. One letter, however, was intercepted by British operatives. Despite being about a shipment of tooth files to New York, the British thought this meant Washington himself would be headed north.

This left the city of Yorktown under-defended, allowing Washington’s forces tot ake the city and end the War for American Independence.