U.S. President Joe Biden postponed his meeting with the head of NATO and other public events on Monday, June 12, 2023, due to a root canal procedure. This follows an incident on Sunday, when he reported tooth pain and received an X-ray examination and root canal treatment from a team at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
Biden, who is 80 years old, underwent his second root canal procedure in as many days due to tooth infection that caused pain. He experienced more pain on Monday but did not have to transfer his powers to Vice President Kamala Harris under the 25th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The White House confirmed that the President received local anesthesia and tolerated the procedure well with no complications.
The First Lady, Jill Biden, revealed during a New York fundraising event that she went to check on her husband after his procedure and found him under anesthesia. However, a White House official clarified that he had only undergone local anesthesia for the procedure.
Root canal procedures are common and have a near-universal rate of success in treating infected teeth that cause pain, particularly for older adults like Biden. Asgeir Sigurdsson, endodontics chair at New York University's College of Dentistry, explained that two or more procedures are sometimes needed to remove damaged tooth tissue and fully resolve the issue. Local anesthetics used to numb pain during the procedure can also make it difficult to speak for a few hours afterwards.
Biden has previously undergone root canal procedures in the 1990s while he was a senator overseeing the Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Justice Clarence Thomas.
The NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg meeting and reception for diplomatic personnel that were postponed were rescheduled for Tuesday. Harris attended the event celebrating college athletes but made no mention of Biden's absence.
Biden's age and health have been major concerns for voters as he seeks a second, four-year term in the 2024 election. Meanwhile, NATO's search for Stoltenberg's successor is heating up, with several potential candidates emerging from Europe as the military alliance supports Ukraine in its response to Russia's invasion.