Did you know these stories about famous people?
Considering how long people have been on Earth, there are lots of famous teeth that “made their mark” in history. Today we’re going to talk about some of the most famous teeth in history. Bring these fun facts to the dinner table and teach your family something new, exciting, and gross — who doesn’t love that?
- In the 1500s, Elizabeth I was queen of England when sugar was discovered from both the East and West Indies. It’s said that the famous monarch loved sugar and would eat it constantly. This led to the discovery that eating an abundance of sugar rots your teeth. She became known for her black, rotting, odorous teeth. Ew!
- In 1816, an aristocrat once bought a tooth that was supposedly from the mouth of Sir Isaac Newton, that guy who discovered gravity when an apple fell on his head, for what would be 35,000 USD in today’s money. This makes Sir Isaac Newton’s tooth the most expensive tooth in history — not even the Tooth Fairy paid that much!
- Flash forward to the 1960s, and let’s look at rock rivals: the Beatles vs the Rolling Stones. Rolling Stones frontman, Mick Jagger, added an interesting trait to his smile: an emerald implanted into his front teeth. While he thought it was stylish, so many people told him he had spinach in his teeth that he eventually replaced the emerald with a white diamond. Legend has it his tooth will sparkle at you if you stand in the spot and the light hits his smile perfectly.
- In addition their music rivalry, the Beatles had their own claim to fame when it came to dental attention. John Lennon, their guitarist, is considered to have the most famous teeth of all time. In the mid 1960s, Lennon had a molar pulled and given to his housekeeper, Dorothy Jarlett in what must’ve been the most awkward “paycheck” anyone has ever received! Just kidding, we don’t know why Lennon gave her the molar, but it probably wasn’t given to her in place of a paycheck. Although, the molar ended up becoming worth more that most modern cars. It was a family heirloom until 2011 when Dr. Michael Zuk bought the tooth for $31,000 with the intention to extract DNA and create a clone of John Lennon.
We don’t know what kind of future is in store for a world with a clone of John Lennon living amongst us, but we suppose weirder things have happened. Everyone knows that England is famous for people having terrible teeth — Austin Powers has bad teeth, he gets it — but there are some pretty bad teeth close to home as well.
That being said, let’s talk about local hero George Washington. It’s said that he was a silent, stoic general, unable to tell a lie… maybe that’s because his teeth were so horrible he physically struggled to open and close his mouth most of his life. While it’s a total tall tale that he had wooden teeth (which are impossible because our saliva would dissolve the wood), we’re not lying when we say Washington should go down in history as a modern family dentist’s worst nightmare. By the time he was 24 he was already losing his adult teeth and was one of the first people to regularly brush his teeth with a toothbrush and powder, similar to we do today. To no avail, he regularly experienced extreme dental misery. There are a lot of crazy, jaw-dropping facts involved in the personal dental history our first president. It’s way too much to cover in just this blog alone, but here’s a short list of the wildest details.
- A talented French dentist working for the British army deserted his post and joined American forces during the Revolutionary War after the announcement of the Franco-American alliance. He became the personal dentist of Mr. Washington.
- Washington ordered dental supplies so frequently, sometimes he sent false letters with dental orders to specific locations where he claimed to be. That way, when the letters were intercepted, they would fool the British army and Washington could successfully surprise attack the enemy.
- Washington bought teeth from his slaves. Historians still aren’t sure why but there’s a strong possibility those teeth were used in one of his many pairs of dentures. Yeah, we’re horrified nonetheless.
- He started out his first presidential term with only one remaining tooth. Eventually his dentist pulled the tooth in 1796 and, with Washington’s permission, kept the tooth in a small glass display case which he hung off the chain of his pocket watch.
- Looking at all the portraits of George Washington over time, you can see a noticeable progression of change in his face shape. This was due to all of the horrible, ill-fitting denture issues he experienced over the course of his life.
If you’re interested in learning more, we suggest checking out Mount Vernon’s fact sheet about this Founding Fathers’ teeth. We hope you enjoyed reading this wild article as much as enjoyed writing it! Just make sure your teeth are in better shape than George Washington’s, contact us to schedule an appointment with Chess & Taub Family Dentistry. Our dentists are extremely professional and experts in the field. We put our patients first by prioritizing their health, care, and comfort above all else. Come on in, we look forward to meeting you!