Terse Topics

By Robert A. Stevenson, D. D. S., R. Ph.

Dental Therapy Editor


                MEN IN THE DENTAL PROFESSION are varied as to their opinions on the efficiency of the different means available for the prevention of dental disease. It is obvious that no one procedure is the answer to our problem. The clean tooth advocates with rigid oral hygiene as the basis certainly should be given serious consideration.

DR. P.H. BELDING, of Waucoma, Iowa, recently stated, “In view of the incontrovertible evidence that mouth hygiene is the greatest single factor in the maintenance of oral health, it would appear that the greatest service that the profession could offer would be to make tooth brushing a universal habit.”

THE NUTRITIONAL CONTROL of dental caries and pyorrhea is gaining in significance rapidly. Through the efforts of an army of workers it is now possible to control infant and childhood diets so that a better quality of teeth are being developed. Nutritional control in adults is also making great strides. Dentists all over the land are correcting bad gum conditions, halting the progressive absorption of bone in pyorrhea cases, and controlling the ravages of dental decay.

ALL THIS IS SOMEWHAT NEW to dentistry. Dentists are not in the habit of inquiring into the health status of patients and advising them as the means for correction. It is difficult for them to acquire this method of practice. They are prone to leave this phase of service to physicians and as a result it is never done. Physicians have no interest in the dental phase of health and they know little about it. However, so many practitioners are adjusting themselves to the newer order that progress is rapidly being made.

JUST THE OTHER DAY a dental practitioner friend sat at lunch with me. The subject of conversation turned to nutrition in dentistry. The friend emphatically stated that he did not believe nutrition had any place in dental practice. I inquired into his reasons, and he said he felt that it was inefficient because he had known cases where the pediatrician had taken careful pains with infant dietary but in spite of this the child’s teeth developed caries in later years.

THIS UNQUESTIONABLY TRUE. It is in all forms of health precautions. Children who are given  every care from a health standpoint often develop disease. This, however, does not persuade us to neglect the known precautions. Consider how much more disease would be present if these precautions were not taken.

NOT SO LONG AGO, a nationally prominent physician had the unfortunate experience of having his young daughter develop rickets. This condition was admittedly brought about by a lack of dietary supervision. On the other hand, virtually millions of young children have avoided rickets because physicians and parents have executed the known dietary precautions. Thousands of diabetic patients die yearly because insulin treatment was not successful, or because complications arose. Yet if the physician failed to use insulin because it is not 100% successful, all diabetics would succumb to the disease. Consider the thousands who suffer from dental disease and who could be helped if dentists would educate patients to the necessity of proper dietary and oral hygiene methods.

THIS BRINGS US TO THE POINT of discussing the training of the dentist and the effect of such training on his outlook on the profession. Dentists are trained to exact technics. They carefully prepare a cavity and when they are through they can exhibit a beautiful preparation. A wax model is carefully carved, invested in modern scientific investments and cast in accurate casting machines, with perfectly balanced gold alloys. The result is a perfect restoration that needs little polishing and fits perfectly. These exact results have made dentists feel that everything they do they must have like exact results.

MEDICAL MEN have not such ideas. Outside of surgery, and vaccines there is very little in a medical practice that is exact. The human element is constantly at work and a treatment that is satisfactory for one patient is often a failure in another patient. The attitude of medicine, however, is to do everything possible in the treatment of disease and if results are not obtained, the physician can feel that everything in his power was done.

AFTER RECORDING THE RESULTS of animal experimentation, as well as the observation of large groups of children, McCollum and Simmonds in “The Newer Knowledge of Nutrition,” Fourth Edition, make this statement, “The development of sound teeth, capable of resisting the destructive agencies, is especially a dietary problem. The small jaws and crowding of the teeth so frequently seen in children is almost certainly the result of faulty skeletal development, and will be intensified by dietary errors which favor the development of rickets.”

IN THE FINAL ANALYSIS the answer to this question must be borne out by clinical evidence. Nutrition and Dental Health want to make this column and open forum as we believe there are many who are giving this subject serious thought but have not the opportunity of expressing themselves, we would like to hear from every dentist that has an opinion to offer; do not consider your contribution too small or not worth while, as it is only by compiling the viewpoint of a large group of men that the result will be worth while.


WHAT PART DOES DIET  have in the development of the teeth and dental health?

IS THERE EVIDENCE TO SHOW that the diet of the average family is correctly balanced to produce sound teeth?

DOES THE FINANCIAL CONDITION or apparent intelligence of the family indicate that the children receive a proper diet?

OF WHAT IMPORTANCE IS DIET during prenatal life in the development of sound teeth in the child?