President’s false teeth are star exhibit
President George Washington’s false teeth are the star exhibit at the National Museum of Dentistry <http://www.dentalmuseum.org/> , in America.
The Baltimore museum proudly displays Washington’s dentures, which are made of hippopotamus ivory.
Amy Pelsinsky is director of communications at the museum, which brands itself as ‘the smile experience’.
She says: ‘We have a really light-hearted and humorous approach to the history of dentistry and all things tooth-related.’
The exhibits include Queen Victoria’s personal dental instruments; a display of toothbrushes throughout the ages; and a narwhal — an Arctic whale with a six-foot tooth growing out of its head.
Roughly 10,000 people visit the National Museum of Dentistry annually, many of whom are children, who can don lab coats to ‘play dentist’ and learn how to floss and brush properly on a giant mouth.
By far the biggest draw, though, is Washington’s dentures, which were made by his favourite dentist in Philadelphia. Washington needed them badly, Pelsinsky says.
Despite writing in his diaries that he used toothbrushes, Washington had only one tooth in his mouth by the time he was inaugurated in 1789.
She adds: ‘We think he had many illnesses throughout his life, you know, it was tough living back then. And the medicine that people took was tough, too. And the medicine actually made your teeth fall out.’
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