The US president cleared his calendar to get a dental surgery, the White House said
US President Joe Biden had a root canal at the White House on Monday, delegating Vice President Kamala Harris to handle a reception for college athletes and postponing his planned meeting with NATO head Jens Stoltenberg.
The octogenarian went through the initial procedure on Sunday, and had the work completed on Monday afternoon after experiencing “further discomfort,” presidential doctor Kevin O’Connor said in a letter that was made public.
Biden was not put under general anesthesia and the 25th Amendment was not invoked, his press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters, adding that he was back at work at the residence.
Harris took over the College Athlete Day on the South Lawn, hosting the winners of men’s and women’s NCAA championships from the 2022-2023 season. Biden’s meeting with Stoltenberg and a reception for chiefs of mission were postponed for Tuesday.
“As far as the health of the president’s teeth, I cannot speak to that,” said Jean-Pierre.
Biden is the oldest person ever to be sworn in as US president, turning 78 just two months before his inauguration. The White House has brushed off all concerns about his physical and mental acuity, repeatedly insisting he is in perfect health.
While the root canal gave a pretext to some US outlets to discuss Biden’s penchant for fast food and sweets – ice cream, in particular – it comes at a time when Washington’s allies in Europe are waiting to see who will get the US leader’s blessing to head NATO next.
“Europe is waiting for white smoke from Washington,” Politico said on Monday, noting that the White House’s endorsement carries a lot of weight even though the military bloc technically operates on consensus.
Stoltenberg has led NATO since October 2014, having lost his re-election bid as prime minister of Norway the year before. His four-year term was extended in 2018, and again in 2022, citing the Ukraine conflict. It is set to expire in September, however, and Stoltenberg has made it clear he will not seek another extension. Biden has not yet hinted at a preferred replacement.