All the President's Teeth

Posted on February 19, 2018 in General oral health

image of the United States White House

Celebrate President's Day in February! To mark the holiday that honors presidents of the United States, we're taking a look at a job that comes with a little less fanfare: the presidents' dentist.

If you find it hard to carve time out of your busy day to go to the dentist, imagine how difficult it is for the president. That's likely why a dental office was installed in the basement1 of the White House during the Herbert Hoover administration in the 1930s. But the facility was anything but sophisticated – in fact, early versions of the office consisted of nothing more than an old dental chair, and dentists were expected to bring in their own materials and tools, including the items needed to process X-rays.2

The in-house dentist's office has come a long way since those days. By the time Lyndon Johnson was president in the 1960s, the White House practice was so up-to-date that he was able to snag a fancy piece of equipment from the office for his own use: an electric toothbrush. And the facilities have expanded to include much more than just a chair – today, the White House dentist's office even has a fully functional operatory.

Should the first family have a dental emergency while vacationing at the rustic presidential retreat in Maryland, they don't have to worry about making it back to D.C.: There's a dental clinic at Camp David, too.

As you might imagine, it takes a special person to get that up close and personal with the commander in chief and his family. For training and security reasons, the dentist is typically selected from the National Naval Medical Center of the United States Navy.3

Some presidents seem to take advantage of the White House dentist more than others – George W. Bush met with dentist Donald Worm, DDS, on multiple occasions and chatted about non-political topics. But in 2015, Barack Obama told Jimmy Kimmel that he only discovered the White House dentist when he thought he had a loose cap.4 It seems like everyone can benefit from twice daily brushing and once daily flossing plus regular dental visits to help maintain good oral health.