Yesterday President Trump made the announcement that Jerusalem was the capital of Israel and that the U.S. would begin preparing to move its embassy there in recognition of that fact. Maybe you noticed that toward the end of the speech the president seemed to be slurring his words a bit. As you might imagine, there were all sorts of suggestions as to what caused this, ranging from a dry mouth to a stroke. But one of the most widespread suggestions online was that Trump was having a problem with his dentures.
Last night on MSNBC, Chris Hayes called what happened, “pretty weird” and noted that the White House had attributed it to Trump having a dry mouth. On another MSNBC show, contributor John Heilemann suggested the “innocent explanation” was that Trump’s mouth was dry but then added, “I actually thought for a moment that he might have lost a crown or something, that it was a dental problem.”
One of the most popular theories circulating on social media yesterday was that Trump was having problems with dentures.
Trump's teeth are #FakeChews
— Bryan Brinkman (@bryanbrinkman) December 6, 2017
NY magazine offered some speculation about whether or not Trump actually has dentures:
As for the answer — dentures or no dentures — it turns out that we’re not the first to wonder about the state of Trump’s teeth. A handy blog entry from the Atlanta Center for Cosmetic Dentistry back in February notes, “[I]t does appear that Donald Trump received a smile makeover with porcelain restorations.” The post also points to a 2015 story from the Daily Beastfeaturing an anecdote about a cosmetic dentist showing off molds of Donald Trump’s teeth to another patient. The dentist reportedly whitened Trump’s veneers regularly.
Trevor Noah of the Daily Show went all in on the denture theory, inviting people to mock the president with the hashtag #DentureDonald.
Trump announces that the U.S. will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and all hell breaks loose between his tongue and teeth. #DentureDonald
Full episode: https://t.co/DJZoI9j8Yo pic.twitter.com/nCciSWuJJ1
— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) December 7, 2017
This morning CNN devoted an article to the topic featuring two medical experts who have never examined Trump:
CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, a practicing neurosurgeon, said he watched the video closely a few times. “There is clearly some abnormalities of his speech,” he said. “You could call it slurring or just a little bit of difficulty forming the words.”
Michael de Riesthal, a speech and language pathologist, agrees. “There was definitely some imprecise progressive change in articulatory precision and slowing of his speech that is not typical in normal speech,” said de Riesthal, an assistant professor in hearing and speech sciences at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the director of the Pi Beta Phi Rehabilitation Institute. “The distortion of his articulation, though, is unknown in etiology.”
Back on MSNBC this morning, host Joe Scarborough hinted at a darker possibility. “There are many things that you don’t take personally from people who are struggling with certain issues because their personality changes,” Scarborough said. He continued, “And that’s something I’ve dealt with in my family and you just sit there and you’re like ‘Okay, that’s not the same person that I knew and I’m not going to judge them for what they’re doing.'”
A bit later Scarborough added that Republicans were coming to him saying, “the President of the United States is not mentally fit.” He added, “There are so many Republicans that have said that behind the scenes. I think for the good of the country we need to have a public discussion.”
So there you have it. Something was definitely up with Trump at the end of that speech. Last month he stopped midway through a speech to drink some water, so dry mouth seems like the most likely explanation. But in the current political environment, this gets spun up into either broad comedy (Denture-gate) or a reason to invoke the 25th Amendment.