Has your presidential vote ever been affected by a candidate’s smile? Often, we judge leaders by their appearance, especially their teeth. We tend to base our assumptions of intelligence, personality, success, and health on their dentition.
In honor of Presidents Day, we review the dental records of presidents who had poor oral health. Many of them were subject to crude instruments and dental procedures. Then, we fast forward to recent years, featuring leaders with healthy teeth. Thank heaven for quality dental care and insurance!
Presidents With Problem Teeth
The general’s dental problems began in his 20s. He was regularly plagued by toothaches, cavities, and tooth loss, his first extraction done at age 24. A 1776 portrait shows a cheek scar, acquired after the excision of an abscessed tooth.
Throughout adulthood, he suffered oral pain, despite using various dental medicines and tooth cleaners. At the time of his 1789 inauguration, he had only one natural tooth remaining.
Ultimately, the President was fitted with dentures, going through many sets, one made by Paul Revere. However, they didn’t fit properly, especially evident in photographs. Whenever he smiled, the spring-fit teeth snapped and creaked. Self-consciousness also made him reluctant to speak publicly.
President Lincoln visited a dentist only four times during his lifetime. In 1841, a terrible toothache brought him to the dentist for an extraction. However, he didn’t receive anesthesia, and part of his jawbone broke off in the process, leaving considerable residual pain.
Fifteen years later, he developed another toothache, this tooth removed by a turnkey. In 1856, this was the standard instrument used for extractions. The device was a sharp hook at the end of a metal rod, attached to a wooden handle. The dentist fitted the hook around a tooth, twisting it to remove it. Six years later, when the President needed another extraction, he arrived at the dentist well-prepared. He brought his own anesthesia, a vial of chloroform!
In 1893, President Cleveland was diagnosed with oral cancer. Six doctors were involved in the 90-minute surgery to excise his tumor, five teeth, and a portion of his jaw. The only anesthesia he received was ether and nitrous oxide gas. Can you imagine the pain? A rubber prosthesis restored his normal speech.
Presidents With Winning Smiles
John F. Kennedy
President Kennedy had both a dazzling smile and remarkably strong teeth. When he served as a Navy Lieutenant during World War II, a Japanese destroyer blasted his ship. While helping his men swim to safety, he towed one injured crewman through the ocean, holding his life jacket strap in his teeth!
In 2015, Kelton Global conducted a survey of 1,000 US adults, asking them to rate the smiles of past presidents. Roughly half the participants ranked John F. Kennedy as the Democratic president with the best smile.
In the same survey, the majority of respondents viewed Ronald Reagan as the #1 president with the most attractive smile. However, he did suffer from temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJD). Fortunately, a cortisone injection resolved his left-sided jaw pain.
President Trump’s brilliant white teeth are the result of porcelain veneers and frequent teeth whitening. A veneer is a wafer-thin shell of porcelain, bonded to teeth to improve their appearance. It can change the shape, length, size, and color of teeth while adding strength. With regular professional care, porcelain veneers can last up to 25 years.
In-office teeth whitening is a procedure using professional bleaching agents. It’s typically done in one visit. The dentist places a protective gel or rubber shield on gums, followed by bleach. A laser enhances the action of the whitening agent.
Tooth-Saving Dental Insurance
Aren’t we fortunate in this modern age to have advanced dental technology? Gone are the days of turnkey extractions and dangerous anesthesia. We also have dental insurance to cover the care we need.
With the help of DentalInsurance.com, you can find the ideal plan. Using our free service, you can compare plan types, learn about dental procedures, obtain quotes, and choose the plan that’s right for you. Learn details about our expertise here.
Our licensed insurance agents are equipped to help you with every step. Call us at 800-296-3800, Monday-Friday, 6am-6pm Pacific Time. Just like a US president, you deserve the highest quality dental care. DentalInsurance.com ensures that you receive it!