Mark D. Phipps, D.D.S. - Implants & General Dentistry
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Summer Time! George Washington's Teeth and Corn On The Cob!

Summer Time!  When I think of summer, well the first thing that pops into my head is bar-b-que, corn on the cob and home made ice-cream!  Big slices of juicy watermelon.  I’m sure you all have your favorites that evoke that feeling of wonderful summers gone by.  It also makes me think about things of a patriotic nature like our first President, George Washington.  He would have had a difficult time with that bar-b-que and especially that corn on the cob.  

You may remember from your history classes that George Washington wore dentures.  Lots of stories have circulated about how his teeth were made of wood.  Actually this is not true.  During his life, Washington had nine different dentists.  His favorite dentist was John Greenwood.  John Greenwood made four sets of teeth for George Washington and none of them were made from wood.  They were carved from hippopotamus and elephant ivory.  Sometimes the teeth were set in gold.  His dentures had gold springs to hold the upper and lower teeth together.   Washington was not able to travel to New York where John Greenwood had his office because of his responsibilities as a general and then as President.  Instead, he had to send his teeth through the mail to be repaired or adjusted.  Sometimes he fixed his own dentures.  He wrote letters to John Greenwood describing his problem and asking for the right tools to fix them.  He requested files to adjust his teeth, scrapers to clean them, and pincers to fasten the wires.  Once he even asked for material to make an impression of his mouth for new dentures.   Washington started losing his teeth in his 20’s!  His dentures were held together by coiled springs and gold wire.  He had an untreated infection from the old root fragments left in his gums which contributed to his death.  His dentures hurt his mouth and would give him frequent headaches.   He suffered from deafness caused by an unnatural motion of the lower jaw when he wore his dentures.  He was embarrassed to speak in public because the dentures changed the shape of his face and the sound of his voice.   

For me, the most interesting part of the story about Washington’s teeth is the mechanism of their fabrication. The upper and lower gold plates were connected by springs which pushed the upper and lower plates against the upper and lower ridges of his mouth to hold them in place. Washington actually had to actively close his jaws together to make his teeth bite together. If he relaxed, his mouth would pop open. There is speculation that this is the reason that the Father of Our Country always looks so stern in his portraits. Take a look at a dollar bill. Washington isn’t upset - he’s just trying to keep his teeth in!!!   

So it’s pretty safe to say that 222 years ago, George Washington was not enjoying corn on the cob.  So many changes have taken place in the world of dentistry since his time.  Why today, George would have undoubtedly been fitted with dental implants, he would have experienced the comfort and ease of having teeth that are as secure and feel as natural as your own. Corn on the cob, steak bar-b-que, a crisp apple, would have been no problem.   Getting up in front of folks, speaking in public would have brought new confidence for our First President, no worries about his dentures slipping when he spoke, with dental implants his speech as well as his smile would be very natural.    

Do you sometimes feel like George Washington?  Embarrassed to speak in public, not happy with your smile, insecure about your teeth, don’t like the way they feel when you eat, unable to eat the things you would really enjoy?  Call us today and come in for a no cost consultation including in office digital x-rays, we’ll tell you if you are a candidate for dental implants and how they might just be the solution you’ve been waiting for!  Don't miss out on another summer bar-b-que!    

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