You’ve heard the expression, “Eat like a horse,” right? Well, how about like a deer?
That’s exactly what Francis Wharton, nicknamed the “Backwoods Wizard,” did in the ’50s and ’60s. When this resourceful and creative hunter found himself in need of some new teeth away from civilization, he created his own set of dentures using deer teeth, plastic wood, and household cement.
Wharton’s deer teeth dentures are now on display at the Museum of Health Care in Kingston, Ontario. Collections manager, Kathy Karkut, stated,
He made a nice little set of teeth for a full upper denture…I think he was just an unusual man. He was quite proud of his ingenuity, and he didn’t need to go pay for dentures like everybody else…He must have used a lot of Polident.
In a 1960 issue of “Guns” magazine, a story was recounted of the unconventional Wharton surviving a bear attack using a .22-caliber rifle, which later prompted him to invent his own larger guns to scare off animals that he encountered in the Canadian wilderness.
After his pet ram was killed, he allegedly killed eight bears in revenge and ironically ate them with his deer teeth dentures.
On the off-chance this story will persuade you to avoid dentists going forward (unlikely), consider the advice from British Columbia Dental Association spokesman Dr. Bruce Ward, who stated:
To try and get a set of dentures to fit the mouth is hard in the first place…I can’t imagine making them [with deer teeth]. This guy must have been brilliant…I don’t think going out and killing a deer and making your own dentures is a really viable option these days…I would not recommend it.
According to Dr. Ward, it is critical to get a good fit, to avoid ulcers and painful sores. You also have to consider how sterile the materials you’re using are.
But John Taffin, a writer for “Guns” magazine, was inspired by Wharton’s story all the same. He stated,
[People like Wharton] are slowly getting beat down by everything around us, but there’s still a few of them left…He was probably a product of the Depression, and like so many people, he learned how to make do.
And you have to admit, no matter how eccentric the idea of deer teeth dentures are, there’s something admirable about the can-do attitude of an old-time mountain man.
All images via CBC