Ted Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt: It looks like he might have been a bruxer (grinder). Oh, yeah, a huge bruxer! When he was charging up San Juan Hill, you know he was clenching his teeth. Those are very worn-down teeth, to go with that gritty personality. Lots of wear on those boys. But they were his own teeth! I don’t think he flossed, either. He had some periodontal disease; look at the spacing between 7 and 8—that’s got to be from perio; he’s got some bone loss there.

 

Franklin Roosevelt

Franklin Roosevelt: Looks like he had a partial denture on the left-hand side. What about that canine, number 11? It looks short—looks like a partial. They all had bad teeth in FDR’s day. Look at 9 and 10, all overlapped—11 is buccal. It’s just all snaggly toothed.

 

Truman

Harry Truman: He was a man of the people—you can tell by his imperfect teeth. He had two really dark teeth, numbers 8 and 10, which might have been endo-related. Could be necrotic teeth, definitely got a couple of dead teeth.

 

Kennedy

John Kennedy: He had better teeth than some members of his family. What’s amazing is that bicuspid extractions were real big in those days. But he has his bicuspids, and they’re all lined up nicely.

 

Nixon

Richard Nixon: He didn’t have bad teeth. Is that a crown on number 9? It’s a slightly different shade from number 8. Actually, all four of his anteriors look kind of weird, kind of square. Maybe that’s an old acrylic-type crown on number 6. He had a thin upper lip.

 

Ford

Gerald Ford: What’s wrong with Ford? He had terrible teeth. Definitely a bad bruxer. Is that tartar between his teeth? A stain? Did he not floss? Looks like he had a little diastema and they bonded it. For somebody who lived in the modern era, he didn’t get great dental care. He was a football player—kids back in those days, if they chipped their teeth at young ages, often they were bonded. It doesn’t look like crowns. All those black spaces—he had periodontal disease, I’m sure.

 

Carter

Jimmy Carter: I think he’s had some dental work done. Looks like he’s had some cosmetic work done on numbers 6 through 11. And done very well. Beautiful smile.

 

Reagan

Ronald Reagan: He has a funny smile line—see how it dips down on the left-hand side? I always thought he had dentures, but looking at it, I don’t think they’re dentures; it looks like they’re his real teeth. Nice teeth for an old man. No wear pattern, not worn down, nothing. A crooked smile, but it’s a nice smile.

 

Bush

George W. Bush: His teeth are yellow. He could have used some whitening strips. Not much in the way of crowns. What you see is what you get.

 

Clinton

Bill Clinton: Looks like he bruxes, too. Definitely some malocclusion—notice how number 10 is so lingualized compared to numbers 7, 8, and 9? Not the best-looking smile.

Helene Ragovin

Helene Ragovin, senior writer at Tufts and editor of Tufts Dental Medicine, can be reached at helene.ragovin@tufts.edu.