Two Ways Dental Implants Could Have Changed George Washington's Life
Most schoolchildren have heard the story about George Washington's wooden teeth. While the myth is prevalent, it's not entirely true. America's first president certainly had plenty of oral problems; however, his multiple sets of dentures were made from various materials including hippopotamus ivory, brass and gold. Rumor has it he may have even bought teeth from the slaves, although history is unsure of what, if anything, he did with these gruesome purchases.
While Washington helped to form the country, advanced cosmetic dentistry has come up with at least one procedure that could have helped him: dental implants. Here's how this modern cosmetic dentistry treatment could have changed Washington's life.
He Could Have Presided Over the Country in Comfort
Today's dentures aren't exactly comfortable. That's why at least three million people have chosen dental implants, a number that's growing by half a million a year. Dentures can slip and slide during conversation and while chewing. They can cause mouth sores and irritation and in extreme cases, may even cause infection.
If today's dentures aren't the pinnacle of perfection, it's not hard to imagine how horrible Washington's dentures were in 1789. Dentures in those days required springs and bolts to help them function and their ill fit probably helped to harbor dangerous bacteria close to the gums.
If dental implants had been available in Washington's lifetime, he could have avoided the pain and embarrassment that came from ill-fitting, crudely made dentures. His dentist would have affixed an artificial root into his bone beneath his gums, attached a lab-created tooth to the root with small screws and sent him on his way.
Although the entire process can take six to nine months, dental implants are a long term solution that would have kept Washington smiling and comfortable throughout his presidency and beyond.
He May Have Lived Longer
Life in the 1700s wasn't easy. Washington had a host of diseases over the course of his lifetime, including dysentery, malaria, tuberculosis and smallpox. It's not hard to imagine a link between his diminished immune system due to constant mouth infections and his susceptibility to the worst diseases of the time.
Washington died in 1799 of epiglottitis, a severe throat infection caused by the same bacteria as many upper respiratory illnesses. Consequently, there's modern evidence that poor oral health and gum disease can make people more susceptible to these illnesses.
Had dental implants been available during Washington's lifetime, he would have benefited from better oral health, possibly leading to a longer life for the nation's first president.
While Washington didn't have access to dental implants, you certainly do. Whether you need one tooth replaced or a whole mouthful, an advanced cosmetic dentist can give you the smile that George Washington only dreamed of.