4 US Presidents with Dental Problems

The month of February is a time that our country uses to honor and celebrate the past leaders of our nation. Through this annual event that we have been commemorating as far back as we can remember, we have learned a great deal about our past Presidents. As to not bore you with those well-known facts that we all know so well, this piece will include some lesser known things about some of our forefathers.

Some of our nation’s best known Presidents had some of the worst dental health issues and dental problems.

Washington Would Have Liked Dental Implants

George Washington was a life-long denture wearer and those infamous teeth became the center of a dental urban legend. At the time of his presidency, the science of dental care was still in its beginning stages and no one resented him for his natural toothless smile. What would Washington have thought of dental implants!  Dentures were the only choice for dentist to fix a missing tooth in early days but this was unsatisfactory, as they tend to cause a lot of discomfort.

They also tended to slip easily making it difficult for the person to talk or chew on food. Then came bridges, whereby a false tooth or teeth are fused between 2 porcelain crowns to fill the gap left by the missing tooth or teeth. Though better than dentures, bridges is not without problems as often, they have loose fitting, crown fractures or gum line opening etc.

Dental implants are simply an artificial tooth root that a periodontist places into your jaw to hold a replacement tooth or bridge without the disadvantages mentioned above for dentures and fixed bridge.

But he was not the only world leader to have dental problems….

Lincoln & Dental Anxiety

Abraham Lincoln, our 16th President, earned the nickname “The Great Emancipator” because he freed the slaves. He bravely chose this path despite strong objections of other politicians and statesmen. This gave the impression that he was one of the bravest Presidents who had ever lead this nation. Despite that image, rumor has it that this fearless leader also suffered from dental anxiety (Dental anxiety is having abnormal fear or dread of visiting the dentist for preventative care or therapy and unwarranted anxiety over dental procedures that they need).

The fear of the dentist can be linked to a number of factors. (Go on the internet and check out some of the interesting articles/studies on how having red hair is a risk factor for dental anxiety). Rumor says that his fear was rightfully triggered by the unintentional mishap of his dentist. Story says that Lincoln was undergoing a tooth extraction without anesthesia (no his dentist wasn’t cruel and sadistic; it didn’t exist at that time). During this extraction, the dentist accidentally broke part of his jaw. As a result, Lincoln reportedly administered his own form of sedation and used chloroform for all of his future dental visits.

Toothless Adams

John Adams is not only a founding father, but the 2nd President of the United States of America. As Washington’s Vice President, he was a writer of The Declaration of Independence and worked diligently to help get the funding that was necessary for launching the United States as a country.

President Adams was so busy and devoted his time to everything else that he didn’t see a dentist for any type of preventative care. Legend has it that he loved tobacco and was a smoker from the age of 8 years into adulthood. Because of his tobacco habit and lack of dental care, he lost all of his teeth. Adams refused to wear dentures like his friend President Washington, which resulted in him speaking with a lisp.

Reagan had TMJ

Our nation’s 40th President was Ronald Reagan. As a former Hollywood actor he used his charisma and good looks to boost himself up the political ladder. Reagan was known for his love of jellybeans, “Reaganomics” and having TMJ. In December 1977, Reagan experienced jaw pain on the left side of his mouth.

This condition was diagnosed as degeneration of the temporomandibular joint. It was treated with a cortisone injection and that allowed him to be pain-free during a three year period.

Preventative Dentistry

In conclusion, preventative dentistry is the simple act of daily brushing, flossing and getting regular dental exams and checkups. Seeking professional dental care prior to any problems developing is the best way to ensure good oral health and minimize the risk of pain associated with dental treatment.

Not only does a healthy mouth contribute to overall health, it can also affect others perceptions of you. It takes just 1/10 of a second for us to judge someone and make a 1st impression. Health and attractiveness are 1st impression characteristics that are universal across cultures. A healthy smile contributes to ones’ self-esteem and attractiveness. According to some literature, attractiveness is seen as being more competent, sociable, intelligent and healthy. No matter if your thinking about running for public office, seeking a new job or promotion or just looking to improve your overall image, having an attractive, healthy smile will work wonders.