With the 2020 presidential election quickly approaching on November 3, we thought we’d take a stroll down memory lane remembering past presidents. Being that our Naperville dentists and specialists provide cosmetic dentistry, general dentistry and implant dentistry, of course, we’ll be focusing on the best presidential smiles.
A History of Presidents’ Smiles
Before we get into which presidents sported some of the best smiles in history, let’s cover a few historical details. For centuries, people didn’t smile in pictures. At first, it’s hypothesized that it was because of older cameras’ long exposure times. Since subjects had to sit for several minutes, it was easier and more comfortable to keep a neutral expression. However, the penchant for not smiling in pictures continued into the late 1800s, even when camera technology had improved. Many historians think cultural forces were at work and that smiling was considered childish and silly. Whatever the reason, there aren’t very many photos of early U.S. presidents smiling. Because of that, we can only really evaluate the more recent presidents.
So, when did the smiling begin? Theodore Roosevelt is often called “the first president that smiled” and his grin was caught on camera many times. However, the first president to smile in their official portrait and actually show teeth was Ronald Reagan. Yup, that’s a long history of stoic expressions. Yet, given the well-known dental problems many presidents faced, we can’t really blame them.
For example, George Washington only had one natural tooth at his inauguration. The same year, he began wearing full dentures made with ivory and other people’s teeth (yikes). Abraham Lincoln also had dental issues. He had a serious fear of the dentist because of a tooth extraction gone wrong that left him missing a piece of his jawbone. He’s actually credited with being one of the first people to use an anesthetic when receiving dental care. Andrew Johnson also had bad teeth and was said to drool constantly. Thankfully, as the field of dentistry evolved and cultural ideals about smiling shifted, the United States presidents’ oral health improved and they were more apt to show their pearly whites. With this brief history lesson out of the way, on to the presidents with famous smiles.
Past US Presidents With Stellar Smiles
Ronald Reagan wasn’t just the 40th president of the United States, he was also a Hollywood actor at one time. It makes sense that he’d have one of those notable celebrity smiles. In a survey conducted by Delta Dental Plans and Kelton Global, respondents overwhelmingly voted Ronald Reagan as having the best smile out of past presidents.
John F. Kennedy
The same survey that crowned Reagan as the reigning smile champion found that when it came to the best presidential smiles for democratic presidents, JFK took top billing. We can’t say we disagree. He had straight, white teeth and a wide grin, making for one of the best smiles in history, at least in the presidential arena.
Former President Obama is also the owner of one of the more famous smiles to occupy the White House. Much like JFK, he too has straight, white teeth and a broad grin.
Bill Clinton had a memorable smile too. He appears to have good oral health and isn’t afraid to show his teeth when smiling in pictures.
While Gerald Ford might have been more reserved with his smiles, he had a nice grin. We’d guess he had good oral hygiene and likely wore braces at some point in his life, given how straight his teeth are.
Jimmy Carter had one of the best presidential smiles during his younger years when he was in office. According to Dr. Jack Ragsdale, an Illinois dentist whose hobby was studying presidential teeth, Carter had excellent oral health and was overzealous about flossing.
George W. Bush
George W. Bush makes the list because he was also ranked high among the former Republican presidents in the Kelton Global Survey. While his smile may not be as wide as some of the others, his teeth are straight and fairly white.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
FDR probably smiled frequently because he wanted to show off his straight teeth. He actually wore dental braces to improve his smile. However, while he might be considered to have one of the best presidential smiles on the surface, in actuality, Roosevelt suffered from a number of oral health problems and wore partial dentures to replace his two front teeth.
There you have it, the best presidential smiles from former U.S. presidents. Don’t forget to vote this November to let your voice be heard in the 2020 presidential election! If you’re not registered to vote yet, you can register online through October 18 or, after that date, in-person at early voting locations. To find out more about where and how to vote in the general election this year, check out this comprehensive, non-partisan resource for voters from the Naperville Public Library.
Once you make a plan to cast your ballot, if getting your own presidential smile is on the agenda, schedule a visit with a Naperville cosmetic dentist, general dentist or specialist at Naperville Dental Specialists today! Visit us in person by calling us at (630) 848-2010 or book a virtual consultation to learn more about your smile transformation options.