Socialized Dentistry

By T. P. H.

            One of the oddities of life is to find that many men look on ethics, altruism and morals as something distinct and separate from natural laws, or laws of nature, such as light, heat, and gravity, etc. If careful thought and study be given we will soon learn that we are not punished for our sins but by them, sin in every case being an act contrary to natural laws. The entire universe from the tiniest atom to the largest celestial constellation of stars and planets are all subservient to, and all work with natural laws. Is it egotism in man that makes him think that he alone is independent of these laws?

Altruism is one of the Nature’s laws for man’s growth. As we reach out in working for and helping others, our consciousness expands and grows –as with the individual so with a group or a collection of individuals.

As Balzac well wrote: “The concentration of the moral forces no matter under what system it may be affected increases the compass of them tenfold.”

Just as soon as our profession becomes truly united and ready to accept its responsibilities as a part of the social structure, it will realize and understand its obligations. Real progress will then take place in accordance with natural laws.

Dental health is an important and truly vital part of general health. General health is an essential foundation for human progress. Physical perfection for itself is not the true objective. A more perfect instrument, however, permits the user better opportunities for a more perfect expression of himself. Much of the retardation and backwardness of school children can be laid to some physical defects. In many cases these physical defects were dental. Retardation and naughtiness, with their resultant punishments or humiliations show their results in adult life.

Here is where the moral responsibilities of our profession as an integral part of the Social Unit comes in.

We have a moral as well as a professional responsibility to our fellow men.

Have we not thought too much about our professional standing –our ethics – and too little about our social responsibilities?

Have we not devoted too much time in condemnations; in building up elaborate codes of ethics whereby we can fight and persecute the unbelievers. Destructive forces are so spectacular that many like to use them for they give wonderful opportunities for individuals to stand before the footlights.

Constructive forces call for unity and the willingness of individuals to cooperate with others.

Dentistry as a profession, and dentists as individuals, have a grand and splendid opportunity AT THIS HOUR to unite and prepare a program whereby preventive procedures can be made practically possible to be applied throughout the entire country.

We must be practical –therefore, such a program must be limited. To be practical this work must be limited to children. Why?

One illustration, one fact, should be sufficient. At this moment the number of carious cavities needing attention is so large, that should we allow only one half hour for the filling of one carious cavity it will take over 70,000 dentists working six to seven hours every day almost a year. This does not allow any time for any other dental work of any kind whatsoever. Carious cavities needing more than a half our will extend the time beyond a year. And meanwhile how many new carious cavities have developed?

Another fact can be offered in the form of a question.

What practical preventive procedures can be offered to adults who have already lost several teeth and have several carious cavities –with their systemic results?

Statistics are being collected which show the increase of probability of caries when one first permanent molar is lost. Already figures have been secured to show when no first permanent molar is lost there is less caries.

It is an established fact that we have evolved preventive procedures which are practiced and which have enabled children to retain all of their first permanent molars. These present limited methods hold wonderful possibilities for expansions, as research work is continued.

No greater or grander work could be done by the American Dental Association and the American College of Dentistry than to prepare such a program and see to it that it is established in every state, city, town and village and controlled by our profession.

It is up to us to get there first. Otherwise our profession will be told what to do, and we shall jolly well deserve if it we are so slow or so blind as not to see or realize our present opportunity.

 

Wee Haven,

Davenport Ridge,

Stamford, Conn.