I’m sure you’ve heard that George Washington had wooden teeth. What do you think, is it true? What else do you know about the dentition of our nation’s first president? Take this quiz and see how smart you are.
(Most of the information for this quiz was shamelessly stolen from wikipedia, so if you’re going to cheat, check there.)
George Washington's Teeth
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He lost his first adult tooth by age 22.
Question 1 Explanation:
Washington suffered from problems with his teeth throughout his life.
He no longer had any of his natural teeth by the time he was inaugurated president.
Question 2 Explanation:
At his inauguration, George Washington only had ONE natural tooth left in his mouth.
One of the reasons he lost his teeth was because he used them to crack Brazil nuts.
Question 3 Explanation:
This was a hard one, so don't get too down on yourself if you missed it. His good friend John Adams attributed Washington's tooth loss to the Brazil nut habit, but John Adams was a lawyer, not a dentist, and most historians dismiss his theory.
His tooth loss was accelerated by the use of Mercury Oxide, a treatment he received for smallpox and malaria.
Question 4 Explanation:
If someone on the street offers you mercury oxide, tell them your dentist said no.
He went his whole life using only three sets of dentures.
Question 5 Explanation:
He had at least four sets made by one dentist, and likely had more. One set is on display at the Museum of Dentistry in Baltimore Maryland.
At least one of his dentures really was made out of wood.
Question 6 Explanation:
This is a myth, as is the cherry tree story. Too bad they weren't combined into one big supermyth in which he cuts down a cherry tree so that he could make his own dentures.
Some of his dentures included ivory from elephant and hippopotamus.
Question 7 Explanation:
Please don't ask me to make you a set like that.
Which of the following were not a part of Washington's dentures?
Bits of horse and donkey teeth.
Tiny gold springs to hold the pieces together.
Question 8 Explanation:
And definitely don't ask me to make you a set using these! In 2005 the set from the Museum of Dentistry was analyzed with a laser and were also found to contain lead.
Despite all his dental woes, Washington refused to take anything for the pain.
Question 9 Explanation:
He was in such pain that he frequently used a drug known as Laudanum, containing alcohol and 10% opium powder.
If you look closely at the $1 bill, it looks like he has a toothache.
Question 10 Explanation:
I know, I know, this question is subjective, but it's worth noting that some scholars claim his dental distress is indeed apparent in several of the portraits he had painted while he was serving as president, including the famous image used on the dollar bill. (You kind of want to go look at one now, don't you.)
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Aw c'mon! You probably think he chopped down that cherry tree too!
Somebody's been brushing up on their revolutionary history!
If you're not a historian, you should be!
[Above: George Washington's lower denture, being analyzed at the Museum of Dentistry in Baltimore Maryland.]