Ever wonder what it would be like to be the dentist for the president?
In honor of Independence Day tomorrow, we take a journey back to review some of the dental history of past presidents. After all, not every president had pearly whites like current President Barack Obama. The gold standard of care for dentistry has progressed drastically over the last 237 years of our nation’s history, and is reflected in the oral healthcare of our presidents. It is important to take into account that for some of our presidents, smoking was more common, regular dental visits were unheard of if pain wasn’t present, and anesthesia was non-existent. We take a look at some of the country’s leaders who have had some remarkable stories about their dental health.
Ever heard of presidents having wooden teeth as dentures? George Washington was our nations first president, coming to office in 1789. This “man who could tell no lie” was previously thought of as having dentures made out of wood. However, scientists snuffed out this rumor when they found several dentures that belonged to him. They were made of ivory, animal teeth, as well as springs and bolts made of gold. Measurements were not perfect and often altered his natural face shape, which can be observed in some of his portraits.
Can you imagine trying to speak without any teeth? John Adams, who began presidency in 1797, was known for never wearing dentures even when he lost his teeth, causing him to have speech issues.
Do you get nervous about going to the dentist? So did Abraham Lincoln. Abe served as president beginning in 1861. It is recorded that his fears of going to the dentist stemmed from a horrible experience where his jaw was broken while his dentist was attempting to do an extraction. Remember, there was no anesthesia back then so you can only imagine the agony he had to go through.
Do you expect your country’s president to set a good impression by visiting the dentist regularly? President Woodrow Wilson took office in 1913. The American people were shocked to see what terrible teeth Mr. Wilson had, after a paper published a picture of him smiling, stained teeth and all. President Wilson did not keep up with his oral hygiene, which has been correlated with an increase in several systemic diseases, including stroke. Unfortunately, Wilson later suffered from a stroke in 1919 which could have been linked to his poor oral hygiene.
To learn more about our nations leaders and their oral habits and hiccups, please visit:
Tooth tales from Delta Dental
The dental history of US Presidents from the “Journal of Endodontics”
Presidents and their smiles from Chatter USA
~Neek LaMantia, San Francisco, electronic editor’15