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February 21, 2021

Dead Coyote Teeth and Melted Toothbrushes Made Into Homemade Dentures, ca. 1900s

What would you do if you were living a meager life in the early 1900s in a remote mountain community and had lost all your teeth? Perhaps you’d count your pennies and go see a local dentist. Perhaps the closest dentist is in a town far away and you can’t afford the time or expense.

A gruesome artifact, now on display in the Eastern California Museum in Independence, seems to tell the story of a man who, in about 1930, found himself in this predicament. What he did is not just grotesque, but rather ironic as well.

He fashioned a set of dentures from the teeth of a dead coyote!

He made the now famous coyote dentures by melting celluloid from toothbrush handles, molding the mixture to the shape of his gums, then pressing the yellowed coyote teeth into the cast.

After years of wearing them, in 1946 a local dentist was so impressed with this ingenuity that he offered to make the man a professional set in exchange for the coyote dentures.


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