In even the most in-depth biographies of past U.S. presidents, little information can be found about their breath. Did they suffer from halitosis like everyone else? Or is the presidential dental plan so good that oral odor is an impossibility? It's hard to say for sure, but it's a fair bet that most Commanders-in-Chief are not exempt from morning breath.
But wait. There is one U.S. leader who's been documented as waking up with halitosis - none other than President Barack Obama! According to People Magazine, during the race for the 2008 election Michelle Obama joked that her husband snored and had bad morning breath.
The UK Daily Mail speculated that these observations stemmed from the soon-to-be-president's wearying schedule, which may have left him snoozing with his mouth open, as well as from his late smoking habit.
Individuals who sleep with their mouth open tend to be prone to morning breath, since a dry palate lets oral bacteria run wild. If you've woken up with a stinky mouth on more than one occasion, you might want to use a specialty breath freshening toothpaste to knock it out immediately. Also, oral probiotics kits can help you change the microbial content of your mouth, making morning breath less likely.
Back to President Obama: it's hardly fair to assume that he is the only U.S. leader who ever got morning breath - or any bad breath, for that matter. After all, plenty of presidents smoked, drank, chewed tobacco or had dentures, all of which can lead to halitosis.
For example, George Washington, the first Commander-in-Chief, had dentures made from animal teeth, gold, ivory and lead, according to MSNBC - not from wood, as the urban legend says. Many adults with dentures complain of morning breath even today, when specialty oxygenating rinses are widely available.
Numerous presidents were known to drink, too, but perhaps the most common nasally offensive presidential habit has been tobacco use. Consider the facts.
- According to Cigar Aficionado, cigar-smoking presidents included James Madison, Andrew Jackson, Zachary Taylor, Chester A. Arthur, Benjamin Henry Harrison, William Howard Taft (who quit while in office), Herbert Hoover (who reportedly "smoked incessantly"), Calvin Coolidge, John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon.
- However, the White House's cigar king was unquestionably Ulysses S. Grant, who at his puffing pinnacle smoked an estimated 20 cigars a day, according to the news source. Talk about risking morning breath! Why did Grant smoke enough stogies to put Sigmund Freud to shame? During the Civil War, he'd been a light smoker. However, after a particularly disastrous skirmish, newspapers revealed that Grant loved cigars. Within days, he'd received 10,000 boxes of cigars in the mail. "I gave away all I could get rid of," he told General Horace Porter, "but having such a quantity on hand I naturally smoked more than I would have done under ordinary circumstances, and I have continued the habit ever since."
- Presidents who smoked cigarettes included Franklin D. Roosevelt, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, though the latter two gave it up shortly before taking the oath of office.
- Andrew Jackson was known to chew tobacco enough that he had brass spittoons installed in the White House, Cigar Aficionado adds.
- Curiously, there is zero evidence that Thomas Jefferson - a president widely known for his tobacco cultivation - ever touched the stuff. Did he have bad breath? The world may never know. He certainly didn't have the specialty breath fresheners that we enjoy today...