Presi-Dental Health Facts: 3 Strange (But True) Tales Hail to the Chief—and his teeth!
#1 – George Washington
You may not know these Presi-Dental Health Facts, But I’m sure like most of you might remember the smiles and expressions of these famous past-presidents.
However, most people don’t know that fascinating (Dentist) stories behind these intriguing historical figures who once lead our country.
Now I’m not what you’d call a “history buff” or anything like it, but I did find these presidential facts utterly fascinating… and I’m hopeful you will too.
Yes, it’s true… this Chesterfield Dentist likes to share fun facts with my community, but I would be remiss if I didn’t start this conversation on “Presi-Dental Health” by focusing on our first (and many feel is our “best”) President, George Washington
It’s rumored that General Washington (before he became our first president) never had wooden dentures, but it is true that after he was elected to the Oval Office, he did suffer from prolific tooth decay which plagued him throughout his adult life.
The American Dental Association hadn’t been formed at that time (it was established in 1859), but The Journal of the American Revolution reported that President Washington had his first tooth pulled at 24 and that he only had one left (What???) at inauguration.
As his time in office increased, many folks of that day thought that the President was becoming a recluse, but the Mount Vernon Estate, notes that “his troublesome teeth made President Washington self-conscious and reluctant to speak in public.” (I can’t say that I blame him… can you?)
And while it’s true that Washington wore dentures, they were not made from wood and he had more than one set.
In fact, his cosmetic dentist (if you could call him that) had many pairs made with many different materials, including: hippopotamus ivory, bone, gold wire, copper screws, lead and it’s rumored that he even had a set made from human teeth (Can you imagine having someone else’s teeth in your mouth?).
His not so lovely wife, Martha, also had a partial denture. “Well aware of her husband’s travails, Martha regularly urged her children and grandchildren to tend to the care of their teeth,” Mount Vernon states.
#24 – Grover Cleveland
Grover Cleveland Had Top-Secret Oral Cancer Surgery1 – On a Yacht Near the beginning of his second (of three terms) in 1893, Grover Cleveland faced two major issues.
Nationally, the country was entering a depression. Personally, a bump in his mouth had formed, grown and was diagnosed as cancer (Can you see why it’s important to have your dental checkup every six months?).
To prevent nationwide panic, a clandestine plan was hatched.
On June 30, Cleveland boarded a yacht in New York Harbor with six doctors. (By the way… how many doctors does it take to screw in a light bulb?)
In a 90-minute surgery the next day, surgeons removed the cancerous tumor, five teeth and part of his upper left jaw. (I’m told that Sly Stallone got his idea for Rambo’s “toughness and ability to block out pain when he read this story about the President…
and how he did all this without dental sedation!”)
Cleveland sat in a chair attached to the mast of the ship. His he did have a bit of anesthesia, which was laughing gas and ether (which in that day… was almost like having no anesthesia at all).
Four days later, Cleveland got off the yacht in Cape Cod and finished recovering at his summer home.
He was later fitted with a rubber prosthesis that helped him speak normally again.
#34 – Dwight Eisenhower
Dental Emergency or UFO Cover up? On February 20, 1954, Dwight D. Eisenhower was eating a chicken wing in Palm Springs, California, when the cap (i.e. “dental veneers“) on one of his front teeth popped off.
He spent his Saturday night at an emergency dental appointment, and the unexpected trip caused led to many false reports (including an Associated Press report that he had died of a heart attack).
It also birthed a UFO conspiracy theory. Some believe the dental services visit was a cover up for a secret meeting with aliens at Edwards Air Force Base.
“In the most recent version of this story, alleged in several books dating back to the late 1980’s, two aliens offered to share their knowledge with earthlings if Ike would eliminate America’s nuclear weapons,” according to the Bulletin of Dental Education (July 2004).
Thanks to Eisenhower’s long military service and time as president, his dental records are thorough and document many troubles with that particular dental crown. Still, the theory lives on with believers because the dentist who treated Eisenhower passed away without leaving record of the visit.
As you can see, our past President have had notable (and serious) issues with their oral health and as a result have made “Presi-Dental” history so to speak (forgive me for the pun… but it was too good to pass up). These Presidents could have avoided many of their oral health issues if they were alive today (maybe not the Alien invasion President Eisenhower is accused of being involved in) by getting a routine oral health checkup. The great news for you is that you can keep your teeth looking beautiful and your oral health in top shape with a semi-annual dental checkup.
I invite you to call our office – Midwest Dental at (314) 576-3737 today to schedule your exam with me, your Chesterfield Cosmetic Dentistry (and General Dentistry) Dentist – Jennifer Wheeler, DMD. I think you’ll find our staff to be consummate professionals, personal, kind and we all have a great sense of humor (which makes it fun and enjoyable for you).
1 – MouthHealthy.org