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Presi-Dental: Looking Back at the Most Famous DC Residents’ Relationship to Dentistry

Posted on: November 22nd, 2023 | Categories: Dental History

The smile of a president is more than just a facial expression; it’s a powerful tool in the arsenal of political communication. Across history, the smiles of world leaders have conveyed confidence, reassured nations, and even influenced public opinion. As a dental office in DC, right at the heart of US politics, the intersection of the presidency and dentistry holds a special place in our hearts. Let’s have a look at some US presidents that had notable relationships with dentistry.

  • Grover Cleveland’s Secret Dental Surgery – Grover Cleveland underwent secret oral surgery on a yacht to remove a cancerous tumor. The secrecy was intended to avoid causing public alarm and to protect the economy, reflecting the significant impact a president’s health can have on national affairs.
  • Teddy Roosevelt: The Smiling President – Teddy Roosevelt is often described as the first president who truly smiled. His robust and energetic demeanor, complemented by his broad grin, marked a departure from the more stoic images of earlier presidents. Roosevelt’s smile embodied his vigorous approach to life and politics.
  • Woodrow Wilson’s Dental Health and Legacy – President Woodrow Wilson’s poor dental health and subsequent stroke underscore the critical link between oral health and overall well-being. We now understand that gum disease, if left untreated, correlated with increase the risk of stroke and other health issues. The importance of regular dental visits and cleanings cannot be overstated.
  • The Presidential Dental Office – Starting with President Hoover’s administration, the White House included a well-equipped dental office, ensuring immediate access to dental care for presidents. This facility is a testament to the importance placed on maintaining a healthy presidential smile. While we would love it if the president were a patient at our dental office in DC, only minutes away from the White House, we understand the need for security the president has.
  • Truman and the National Institute of Dental Research – Harry S. Truman played a pivotal role in advancing dental research. By signing the bill that created the National Institute of Dental Research, he demonstrated a commitment to dental health. Truman himself famously underwent extensive dental work, highlighting the necessity of dental care.
  • JFK’s Heroic Smile – John F. Kennedy, known for his charismatic smile, once used his teeth in an act of heroism. While serving in the Navy, he famously pulled a fellow sailor to safety by clenching the strap of the sailor’s life jacket in his teeth, swimming to safety. This anecdote not only highlights Kennedy’s bravery but also underscores the functional importance of strong, healthy teeth. While using teeth for anything but chewing and smiling could result in a visit to the dentist for a chipped tooth, we recognize the extenuating circumstances.
  • LBJ’s Modern Approach with Electric Toothbrushes – Lyndon B. Johnson brought a modern touch to presidential dental care by using electric toothbrushes and giving them out to guests at White House. This adoption of new dental technology showcased the importance of embracing advancements for better oral hygiene.

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