Fact! George Washington Survived On Bought Slave Teeth

One of the wackiest myths surrounding George Washington is that he wore wooden dentures. However, Washington never chewed his corn with timber teeth. By the time he was president, he had already lost most of his own teeth and had several sets of dentures—some sporting other people’s pearly whites. Evidence seems to suggest that they came from slaves.

In 1784, he recorded the purchase of human teeth for his own private use—“By Cash pd Negroes for 9 Teeth on Acct of Dr. Lemoire.” The latter was a dentist who treated Washington and also paid premium prices for people to part with their front teeth.

Slaves could also sell their teeth but for much less. While it is impossible to know if the nine snappers became dentures, they were almost certainly pulled from Washington’s slaves. It is believed that the two men struck a deal to use Washington’s own slaves to drive the price down.[8

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