4 US Presidents with Dental Problems

4 US Presidents with Dental Problems

February is a time that our country uses to honor and celebrate our nation’s past leaders. 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. 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 problems.

Washington Would Have Liked Dental Implants

George Washington was a lifelong 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 beginning, and no one resented him for his natural toothless smile. What would Washington have thought of dental implants? Dentures were the only dentist to fix a missing tooth in the early days, but this was unsatisfactory, as they tended 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 are not without problems as often; they have loose fitting, crown fractures or gum line openings, etc.

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

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 enslaved people. He bravely chose this path despite solid objections from other politicians and statesmen. This gave the impression that he was one of the bravest Presidents who had ever led 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 they need).


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

Toothless Adams

John Adams is not only a founding father but also the 2nd President of the United States of America. As Washington’s Vice President, he wrote 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 preventative care. Legend has it that he loved tobacco and was a smoker from 8 years into adulthood. Because of his tobacco habit and lack of dental care, he lost all 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, allowing him to be pain-free for three years.

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 before any problems develops the best way to ensure good oral health and minimize the risk of pain associated with dental treatment.

A healthy mouth contributes to overall health and can 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 one’s self-esteem and attractiveness. According to some literature, attractiveness is seen as being more competent, friendly, intelligent, and healthy. Whether you’re 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.

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