CD-US presidents George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln

Some Facts about Presidents’ Teeth

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Our presidents are often depicted with stoic faces in their portraits or pictures. But it makes sense if you think about it; who can smile for hours on end while someone paints you? Still, one can’t help but wonder what’s underneath: Which president had wooden teeth? Did any of our presidents with bad teeth do well? Here are some presidential teeth facts to enjoy or satisfy your curiosity.

Washington’s Dentures 

George Washington suffered from tooth decay and tooth loss throughout his adult years. According to the Journal of the American Revolution, Washington had his first tooth pulled when he was 24; during his inauguration, he only had one. The president’s teeth problems made him self-conscious and hesitant to speak in public.

As one of the most famous presidents with false teeth, Washington had different sets of false teeth; many pairs were made from different materials, including bone, gold wire, lead, and copper screws. Unfortunately, all of them gave him pain and slightly disfigured his face, which you can see in one of his famous portraits by Gilbert Stuart.

One of his dentists, Dr. John Greenwood, made Washington a set of dentures that were more advanced for its time. He even left a space for Washington’s remaining tooth. When Washington finally lost his lone tooth, he gave it to Dr. Greenwood, who placed it in a special case.

Martha Washington, his wife, had a partial denture. She was also very aware of her husband’s dental struggles and often encouraged her children to care for their teeth.

Jefferson’s Impressive Oral Care 

Some of the early presidents of the United States were presidents with bad teeth; Thomas Jefferson was not one of them. Many people know him as the principal author of The Declaration Of Independence. But not many know how meticulous he was with his health and teeth. When he was 81 years old, he proudly stated that he had only lost one adult tooth.

He was also friends with Charles Wilson Peale, an innovator of porcelain teeth. Jefferson once wrote to him that he was particularly happy not needing any of his porcelain teeth.

Jefferson also kept a journal where he recorded eight visits to the dentist between 1772, when he was 29, and 1824, when he was 81. He also wrote about purchasing toothpicks or toothbrushes with neither strong nor weak bristles; during his time, toothbrush bristles came from pigs, badgers, and horses.

Abraham Lincoln’s Dental Anxiety and Embalmer  

Did you know that Abraham Lincoln suffered from severe dental anxiety? A mishap during a tooth extraction procedure in 1841 resulted in the dentist accidentally breaking a piece of his jawbone. And did we mention this happened without anesthesia?

From then on, Abraham Lincoln made sure he was sedated with chloroform to keep him relaxed for his future dental visits.

With his dental anxiety, wouldn’t it be ironic for him to be embalmed by a dentist? Not many know that a dentist embalmed Abraham Lincoln. Dr. Charles De Costa Brown was originally a physician who came to New York to practice and study dentistry. He also took an interest in embalming, becoming an official government embalmer during the Civil War. He later enlisted in an embalming bureau in Washington DC, where he cared for the body of Willie, Lincoln’s son, who died three years earlier than his father.

After his death, Lincoln’s body traveled 1600 miles from Washington DC to Springfield, Illinois, to allow the public in major cities to view him. Brown accompanied the body and re-embalmed it when necessary.

Grover Cleveland’s Oral Cancer Surgery 

In 1893, Grover Cleveland was facing two major problems: the country was in depression, and he had a lump in his mouth that had grown and been diagnosed as cancer.

A country in depression learning that their president had a severe condition will stir some panic. To prevent that from happening, he and his team devised a plan. On June 30, he boarded a yacht in New York Harbor together with six doctors. But, they weren’t there to party; they were there to perform a 90-minute surgery to remove his cancerous tumor, a portion of his upper left jaw, and five of his teeth.

Cleveland sat on a chair attached to the mast of his ship, and his only anesthesia was ether and laughing gas.

He stepped off the yacht at Cape Cod four days later to finish his recovery at his summer home. He was able to speak normally again when he was later fitted with a rubber prosthesis.

Emergency Dental Appointment or Meeting With Aliens? 

Dwight D. Eisenhower was enjoying a chicken wing in Palm Springs on February 20, 1954, when he lost the cap to one of his front teeth. This led to him spending his entire Saturday night in an emergency dental office and numerous false reports, like dying due to a heart attack and a UFO conspiracy.

Some believe the dental visit was a cover for a meeting with aliens at the Edwards Air Force Base. According to the conspiracy theory, the aliens offered to share their knowledge with earthlings in exchange for America’s elimination of nuclear weapons.

Fortunately, the president’s teeth records from his extensive military service and presidency showed his many problems with this particular crown. Still, the UFO theory persists, as Eisenhower’s dentist died without making any records of his visit.

Ulysses S. Grant’s Battle Toothbrush 

What does one bring to the battlefield? Well, for President Ulysses S. Grant, all he needed to bring for six days of fighting in the Civil War was his toothbrush. He believed having a nice smile rather than a rifle would best inspire his troops.

Unfortunately, his love of cigars took its toll on his president’s teeth and mouth. In 1884, he was diagnosed and later died from throat cancer.

John Quincy Adams’ Mercury Poisoning

The 6th president of the United States caught smallpox that was treated using mercury, a toxic substance commonly used for smallpox during his time. Unfortunately, this resulted in mercury poisoning that damaged the president’s teeth. It also doesn’t help that he continuously had gum diseases and started smoking at eight years old.

Andrew Johnson’s Bad Teeth 

Andrew Johnson became the first American vice president to take over a presidency after an assassination. He was also the first American president to be impeached. This president’s teeth were so bad he constantly drooled while talking, even when his mouth was closed.

Keep Your Teeth Healthy With Century Dental 

Here’s one last fact: The White House has its own dental clinic. The White House’s dental clinic was installed by President Hoover in the basement and has been there since to take care of the president’s oral health.

Our dentist near South Pasadena, FL can provide the best dental care for your teeth tailored to your needs. Experience expert care here at Century Dental; call us today to learn more about our services and for any inquiries and concerns you may have.

Picture of Dr. Abdullah M. Allawnha

Dr. Abdullah M. Allawnha

Dr. Allawnha, born in New Orleans and raised in Windsor, Canada, earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Windsor. He worked as an ER nurse in Detroit, Michigan, before moving to Morgantown, West Virginia, to become a dentist. He completed his Doctorate of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree from West Virginia University School of Dentistry while still working as a nurse until he graduated.

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