In the early 1900s a man couldn’t afford proper dentures, so he made his own using melted toothbrush handles and the teeth of a dead coyote.
George Washington Hancock (1882-1969) was a resourceful old miner who lived in a cave dwelling above the small frontier town of Lone Pine, California. Unable to afford the dental care he needed, Hancock repurposed old celluloid toothbrushes by melting them down and molding the warm plastic to fit his mouth. He then made his own dentures using teeth pulled from the mouths of coyotes he had hunted.
At first, the hot plastic of the homemade dentures sloughed the tissue off Hancock’s gums, causing extreme discomfort. However, once his mouth healed up, he wore them successfully for many years.
In 1946, a dentist named Dr Douglas Dyer came to Lone Pine. The dentist was so impressed with Hancock’s ingenuity that he offered to make him a professional set of dentures in exchange for the homemade coyote teeth ones.
The teeth are now in the collection of the Eastern California Museum, in Independence, CA.
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