Health Education

By  DAVID BENNETT HILL, D. D. Salem, Oregon

            A number of years ago I made an attempt to find out what kind of a health program the dentists preferred for their patients and I found just about as many ideas as there were dentists and very few had made the slightest study, so I decided to do some work to find out what kind of a program would get results with the people.

I was then a member of the Oregon State Board of Dental Examiners and we distributed a great many thousand leaflets. I made it a point to deliver them to some twenty-five schools and asked the teachers to read them to the children and I know that it was done in most of these schools. Along with this we conducted an essay contest on health. The next year I checked up as to what was remembered of it. There were very few who recalled receiving the literature and practically none who could tell of anything it contained. The next year, I obtained a moving picture and showed it in the same schools. The following year’s check-up showed that almost one hundred percent remembered seeing the picture and most of them could tell of the lesson it taught. This was seventeen years ago, yet we still are distributing thousands of pieces of literature and conducting essay contests that people seldom read and never remember.

In the last few years, I have been writing health programs and making health pictures that are now used all over America and in several foreign countries and I have come to a few conclusions from my contacts with health authorities all over the globe. First, people do not read or pay but little attention to anything in which they are not definitely interested unless it is put to them in a very pleasant manner such as, pictures. I give as an illustration, the new magazine, “Life” mostly pictures with a distribution of two million each month in a very short time, General Motors, “Parade of Progress” which educates thousand each day, the “March of Time” on the screen which reaches thirty million people each month and the Chevrolet Corporation with score of travel motion pictures with paid operators. Pictures are not new, nor are words and demonstrations new, but some people have discovered how to make them work together, consuming as little time as possible, making them as pleasant as possible, and easy to understand. They are experts who know what they are doing and what results they are obtaining.

In conversation with an executive who has charge of spending several million dollars a year in advertising, I asked which form of advertising was most effective. His answer was, that it depends entirely upon what one wanted to do. One suggestion he gave was that the radio establishes a trade name in the minds of the listeners with very little effort having been put forth by that listener.

After long experience in health work, making and putting into effect programs for both medical and dental professions, I am convinced that pictures are the last word in teaching health habits. They not only supply an abundance of subjects for conversation, but they also possess the advantage of assisting the memory by calling to its aid the most precious of all senses; namely, sight. That which has been well understood can scarcely ever be forgotten and one remembers well that which has been learned with pleasure. It is truthfully said, “The eye is the gateway to the brain” and has been proven to be the natural method of learning and remembering. As I stated before, I have spend some little time and money proving this.

Reach Parents

All the teacher or nurse can do in the school room is, as the radio does, call the attention of the students to dentistry and establish the name, and then it is up to the dentist to impress upon the patient the great importance of having the work done. I have found that telling the child is not enough, you must reach the parents.

Last year, I had the pleasure of participating in one of the most effective health programs I have ever known and which I have since tried in a number of places. It was organized by the dentists and school health nurses of Albany, Oregon. I had nothing to do with the planning of this program, I simply took a part. The dentists designated one day for each school of the city and they asked me to put on in that school auditorium, my health film, “The Life of a Healthy Child” and lecture, and show the children the effective way to brush the teeth, show them a motion picture of Glacier National Park in colors and a very funny animal film. No child was admitted to that assembly unless accompanied by one or both of his parents and when I finished the talk, which took about one hour, the school was dismissed for the day so that the children could go to their dentist and have an examination in the office. This could not be obtained unless the parents were with them. One of the dentists told that he made appointments for three weeks in advance. You see, they were following out the same approved program of the companies I mentioned above, entertaining people as well as educating them. In other words, they are not using ox-cart  methods in an automobile age. There were no politics in this plan. no one wanting a job or an expense account. All the doctors and dentists of Albany worked in harmony.

Confidence in Subject

We cannot depend on the teacher and student to establish a desire for dentistry, the parents must be taught the necessity of dentistry and the best way to appeal to hem is from a health and personality standpoint. Of course the result of any program depends upon the sincerity of the man behind the gun. If you believe it yourself, you can stand up before your patients and put it over. But here is the rub, very few dentists are prepared to do this effectively and very few have the patience to do through work for children. The condition is changing very rapidly for the better but it is still in a sad state.

Instruct Patients

The following is an instruction on the care of the teeth that I have given patients at the chair for a number of years and I have found it a most effective way of convincing my patients of my sincerity and it has been most gratefully received by them. I believe it has saved more teeth than all my dentistry has done. It has truthfully been the greatest practice builder I have ever known. I am firmly convinced that the people cannot be made to desire dentistry as they desire an automobile or a permanent wave or a good suit of clothes because everybody wants those and it is not disagreeable to take possession of them. The desire for good dentistry must be formed as character is formed, not because it is the easiest but because it is the best thing to do. Experience has proven to my satisfaction that the only sure and effective way of creating in a patient the desire to keep their mouth well is by instructions given by the dentist at the chair. I give every patient whose teeth I clean, a good tooth brush and show him how to brush his teeth with the following instructions:

Mr. Smith, I am going to instruct you on the care of the teeth and mouth and s how you an efficient way to use the brush by actually brushing your teeth. My reason for doing this, is because experience has proven that the careless way the average person brushes the teeth makes little difference whether they brush them or not. First, let me state, buy a good brush, a cheap one does little good and often harms. Use a dental cream or powder. Dental cream or powder is to the teeth like soap is to the hands, it helps to do a better job. It will not cure decay of the teeth or diseases of the gums. This must be done by a dentist.

Bear this in mind, you must have a definite system of brushing the teeth. A tooth brush will not clean where it does not touch. there are five parts of every tooth to brush, the top or chewing surface, the outside or cheek surface, the inside or tongue surface and the two surfaces in between and in addition, the gums, cheeks, tongue and all the tissues of the mouth must be brushed for stimulating and cleansing effect.

Dentists know that unless the stain that gets on the teeth is removed twice every 24 hours, it becomes so hard that it is very difficult to remove with a brush, therefore, it is necessary to have a system that will clean every part of the teeth every time you brush them, which is not so hard since there are only five parts to clean and that is what I want to show you.

Ten Steps

There are ten steps, and note, it goes in fours. Four tops, four outsides, four insides and four fronts and the cheeks, tongue and tissues of the mouth. Watch yourself in the mirrors. I now brush the teeth.

  1. Put dental cream or powder on the brush. Brush the teeth for at least two minutes each morning and especially each evening. Time yourself.
  2. Clean the four grinding surfaces, two lower and two upper, by firmly rolling the bristles of the brush well into the grooves and vibrating the brush backwards, forwards and sideways.
  3. Clean the two outside surfaces and front of the upper teeth by firmly rolling the bristles of the brush down over the gums and teeth toward the biting surface. Agitate and work the bristles in between the teeth.
  4. Clean the two outside surfaces and front of the lower teeth by firmly rolling the bristles of the brush up over the gums and teeth toward the biting surface. Agitate and work the bristles in between the teeth.
  5. Clean the two inside surfaces of the upper back teeth by firmly rolling the bristles of the brush down over the gums and teeth toward the biting surface. Agitate and work the bristles in between the teeth.
  6. Clean the two inside surfaces of the lower back teeth by firmly rolling the bristles of the brush up over the gums and teeth toward the biting surface. Agitate and work the bristles in between the teeth.
  7. Clean the inside surfaces of the upper front teeth by placing the brush in the mouth lengthwise. Firmly draw the bristles downward and forward over the gums and teeth toward the biting edge.
  8. Clean the inside surfaces of the lower front teeth by placing the brush in the mouth lengthwise. Firmly draw the bristles upward and forward over the gums and teeth toward the biting edge.
  9. Brush all parts of the mouth thoroughly; gums, toward the teeth, cheeks and tongue.


  1. Then, force the tooth cream suds vigorously between the teeth and around the mouth and wash out. This stimulates and cleans the whole mouth, helps clean between the teeth and helps to keep the breath free from odors.

This in addition to a well balanced diet with plenty of milk and other dairy products, leafy vegetables, fruit, bread and eggs and a visit, fruit, bread and eggs and a visit to your dentist twice a year will keep your mouth clean and healthy and will pay you well in more ways than one.

Instruction Chart

I then give each patient a small Practical Tooth Brushing and Habit Forming Chart which I originated and gave to the American Dental Association for distribution. This chart contains ten illustrations emphasizing by pictures and words the above instructions. It is six by six in size and is gummed on one side to be stuck on the mirror until this effective method is mastered. These charts may be purchased from the American Dental Association.

I find that children learn by example and suggestions. These were my reasons for developing the moving picture which is not generally used, “The Life of a Healthy Child”. This film can be rented from the American Dental Association. In a few weeks I will have another picture, “The Way to Health and Happiness”.

Films in my estimation should not be a lot of drawings and hideous things. They should tell the beautiful story of life and life is beautiful if lived properly. Below is an outline of the picture I have completed for general distribution.

The Way to Health and Happiness

Good health, long life and happiness are not just accidents. The choice whether they shall be yours lies largely in your own hands. To know how to live and apply it, greatly increases the capacity to work, to be happy and to be useful. It develops the body, the mind and the heart –it ennoble the man as a whole.

The obedience to one or two rules of health is not sufficient for abundant life. All the rules of right living must be obeyed and the most important are:


  1. Food –The right kind in the right amount.
  2. Comfortable clothing.
  3. Correct posture.
  4. Good mental habits –proper reading –Sunday school and Church.
  5. Water –Several glasses a day.
  6. Cleanliness –A bath, twice a week at least. Fresh garments as needed. Wash hands and face three times a day.
  7. Exercise –Regular exercise outdoors.
  8. Sleep and Rest –Most children need ten hours of sleep each day.
  9. Fresh air –In the home, in the bedroom and in school.
  10. Safety First –Safety Lanes –Approaching police-man as friend.
  11. Play.
    1. Skating.
    2. Playing Ball.
    3. Playing with animals.
    4. Swimming.
  12. Health department.
    1. Nurse talking to group of children
    2. Entering health department
    3. Health department. Prevention and education is stressed.
    4. School Room. Nurse showing educational program of Health department. Proper foods, vaccination against smallpox, immunization against diphtheria and the tuberculin test is stressed.
  13. Nurse showing important foods, stressing dairy products, fruit, vegetables, cereals and bread.
  14. Medical Examination.

“The Most Reliable Health Advice is Received from your Family Physician or Health Department.”

  1. Entering Physician’s office.
  2. Taking height and weight.
  3. Testing eyes.
  4. Examining ears, nose and throat.
  5. Stripped, testing lungs, heart. Testing feet. Vaccination against smallpox, immunizing against diphtheria and giving the tuberculin test.
  6. Dental Examination.

“The Most Reliable Advice and Instruction on Oral Health is Received from your Family Dentist.”

  1. Entering Dentist’s office.
  2. Examining mouth with mouth mirror for cavities.
  3. X-ray Examination.
  4. Advice and instruction as to teeth and mouth care. Stressing the benefit of chewing hard foods. Showing a 17 year old girl with beautiful teeth and a charming smile.

The last scene: A group of happy children at play with the ocean and sunset in the background. The following is the title on this scene: “The happiest people are those whose careful health, mental and spiritual habits carry them through to a ripe old age. They are the ones whose laughter rings true.” The End.

This picture is made in a real school room, health department and a physician’s and dentist’s office. The children were picked from the grade schools. There is no fake or deception in it. It is just as the everyday school child of today should do. The actors are children from eight to twelve years of age with the exception of the nurse.

A descriptive lecture to be read with this film is being furnished.

Now, I am thoroughly aware from my experience with health workers that they are pitifully underpaid. A lot of them just so sincere and so anxious to do something but terribly handicapped because of expenses and I have known several, out of their miserably low salaries, to contribute some of that to their work where it was sorely needed. And then again, they are held back by some small politicians who are, as a rule, starving dentists who want to get their ideas over or get on an expense account or obtain a little free advertising. Is it no wonder that a small percentage of the people are affected by our educational work? I have always favored the policy of the Bureau of Public Relations where they asked the trades people to put ads in the journal and use a part of the money for educational work, but I believe we should go stronger, ask all of these men and all get together, pool our money and ability and put on one program and repeat, repeat and REPEAT.

Worthy Movement

This is for humanity’s welfare and one of the most satisfying tasks of any man or woman is to take part in this movement. Since the beginning of time, health has been mankind’s greatest desire and the greatest asset in attaining any position in life. There are only a few men in this world who have performed great services to humanity despite bodily weaknesses. They are rare exceptions.

Whose fault is it that they are not getting what they greatly desire?

-First National Bank Bldg.