Biden got a root canal and it upended his schedule for the day

Jun 12, 2023, 8:18 AM | Updated: 4:10 pm

President Joe Biden leaves Holy Trinity Catholic Church in the Georgetown section of Washington, af...

President Joe Biden leaves Holy Trinity Catholic Church in the Georgetown section of Washington, after attending Mass, Saturday, June 10, 2023. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden got a root canal Monday and it left something of a cavity in his daily schedule, forcing him to bow out of a public event with college athletes and postpone his meeting with NATO’s general secretary by a day.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre minimized the significance of the procedure at the Monday afternoon news briefing. She called it “routine” and said Biden is feeling “just fine.” She declined to say what caused Biden’s dental pain and led to the root canal.

“I am certainly not a dentist by any means,” Jean-Pierre said. “As far as the health of the president’s teeth, I cannot speak to that.”

More than 15 million root canals are completed each year, according to the American Association of Endodontists.

Biden’s personal physician, Kevin O’Connor, said in a memo released by the White House that Biden reported the pain in his lower right premolar on Sunday. The president had an initial root canal that day, and he “tolerated the procedure well” with no complications, O’Connor said.

On Monday morning, Biden had “further discomfort” in his mouth, which O’Connor said was expected. An endodontal specialty team from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center completed Biden’s root canal at the White House.

Speaking at a political fundraiser in New York City on Monday evening, first lady Jill Biden said it had been a “tough night” for both of them Sunday.

“He was up all night in pain,” she said. “Which of course meant, guess what? I was up all night in pain — with a different kind of pain.”

The first lady also expressed a bit of surprise that doctors were able to care for the president without him leaving the White House. “Did you know there’s a dentist’s office in the bottom of the White House?” Biden asked the donors. “I had never seen it before.”

At another point, she asked the crowd about their concerns and promised to take them back to her husband. Taking some comedic license, the first lady joked that the president was under anesthesia.

In fact, the White House said Biden was not placed under anesthesia for the procedure, which meant there was no need to invoke the 25th Amendment and have Vice President Kamala Harris serve as acting president.

Biden had been scheduled to appear at College Athlete Day on the South Lawn at the White House, which welcomes NCAA champions from various men’s and women’s sports from the 2022-23 season. Harris attended in Biden’s place.

The White House moved two other events that were on Biden’s schedule to Tuesday — a meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and a reception for chiefs of mission at the White House.

Associated Press writer Michelle L. Price in New York City contributed reporting.

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Biden got a root canal and it upended his schedule for the day