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How George Washington’s teeth — from animals and maybe slaves — became an American legend

Washington’s teeth were crafted from gold leaf, lead plates, hippopotamus ivory, and the teeth of cows, horses, and, likely, Washington’s slaves.

NEW YORK — Sometime in the 1790s, George Washington journeyed by horse-drawn carriage from Philadelphia to lower Manhattan. It would’ve been a miserable three-day trek over 100 miles of dirt and rock, but not as dreadful as what awaited him at the end of the road.

There, at a home on William Street, the roughly 60-year-old president would have sat before a sunlit window, opened his mouth wide, and had his last remaining tooth twisted out by a dentist who later turned it into a trinket.

No anesthesia. No comfortable dentist chair. Pliers. A rocking motion, a twist or two. Out.

The tooth survives to this day — the one piece of Washington, aside from hair clippings, that’s still above ground — as does a denture that was crafted with a hole to accommodate the president’s tooth.

Neither that denture, nor any other owned by Washington, was made

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