Caries Increasing Among Greek People

Dr. Alex Krikos Presents

“THE PROBLEM OF DENTAL DECAY IN GREECE.”

            Investigation regarding the progress of dental decay among the people of the Greek race have been extended to approximately five thousand individuals, mostly children, and in addition to these living subjects, to the dental apparatus of several hundred skulls belonging to the people of the Greek race, or their predecessors, who lived in that territory during successive periods from the most ancient up to the present age.

These investigations, thirty-two in number, constitute separate items of research; and from the comparisons and analyses of these findings we learn several facts which, in a way, present a new outlook upon the problem of dental decay, in as far at least as that race is concerned.

The resultant findings regarding the progress and intensity of this disease is as follows:

The children of primary school age found to be affected by the dental decay, on the average of 87% the young people of 97% and the middle aged population at the rate of 99%.

The permanent teeth of the children found to be diseased at the rate of 20%, of the young people 27% and of the adult population 48%. These percentages give an average at the rate of 3.5 affected teeth per child, 7.6 per young person and 13. per adult, and of these one half tooth per child, approximately, 3.5 per young person and 9.6 per adult represent those found pulpless, destroyed beyond hope of repair, or missing by extraction.

The findings regarding the children, in particular show that the percentages of decayed teeth in 24 groups of children from 15 different localities vary from 12-27%. An exception to this average was noted in a group of gypsy children of similar age having only 6% of decayed teeth.

Further comparisons reveal the fact that, contrary to the generally accepted theory of the progress and intensity of dental decay, the highest percentage of diseased teeth is not found among the children of the large cities –the places of the most luxurious living –but in the country towns of from 2 to 10 thousand inhabitants.

When classified according to environment, these percentages appear, on the average, as follows:

Locality                                                                    % of diseased teeth

Small villages ……………………………………. 12-14%                               13%

Large cities ………………………………………..  16-19%                               18%

Country towns …………………………………   23-27%                              25%

 

The findings on the dental apparatus of the skulls, on the other hand, when classified according to periods of time, show the percentage of diseased teeth found in each period as follows:

Chronological periods                                         % of diseased teeth

Up                  to 2300 B. C.                                                .0%

2300             to 1700 B. C.                                               7.9%

1700             to    700 B. C.                                              8.4%

700 B. C.   to    300 A. D.                                              9.9%

300             to 1300 A. D.                                              20.%

1300 to the present era                                                 48.%

 

The results of the findings just presented give many points of interest; however, those related to the continuity of the increasing percentage of diseased teeth, to the etiology, and to the measures that may be applied in order to combat this malady, seem to be of the most importance to this subject.

The progressively increasing rate of diseased teeth in a race for a period of four thousand years, mounting from 0 to 48% on a given age, tends to show that the complete disintegration of the free portion of the tooth, even in childhood, is only a matter of time. Already at the present time we have approximately two of such toothless children per thousand at the age of thirteen.

As to the etiology of this disease, observations on the teeth from all periods show that developmental defects, or what it may be termed as a gradual softening condition of the tooth structure, constitutes the main aspect of this malady from its very origin, and at present 50% of the molar teeth are found to be in need of dental care during the first year of their eruption from these very same defects.

These evidences verify the fact that in the teeth of the Greek race, dental decay is primarily shows to be a form of osteomalasia and regardless of the insinuative factors which are causing it, since such a condition has been present in the constitutional economy for a period of four thousand years, it does not seem possible to effect a cure which will inhibit decay entirely.

 

Change Needed in Nation’s Food Habits

Such plan need not entail any extra cost to the consumer nor a loss to the producer. It is a process through which a modification can take place in the diet of the whole nation by partial substitution of the foodstuffs now in use with other more favorable to the calcification of tooth structure.

This plan may not be in conformity with the present tend of scientific thought, however, after a series of studies on the possibilities of the application of a plan for the masses, it has been found that it is the only one applicable to the people of that country and perhaps to many others of similar circumstances.

In closing I would like to state that the continuous progress of dental decay and the spreading of this diseases more intensely among the less well-to-do people present new information in the field of dental research which I believe, even if it is confined to the Greek race alone, requires serious consideration by more competent men than myself.

Dentists Already Overburdened With Health Obligation

I also would like to state, that the dentist, although regarded as the guardian of the dental system, is the least competent to cope with the problem in its entirety. He is already overburdened with the manual work thrust upon him by the increasing needs of society in this field and there, to my belief, is very little he can accomplish.

It is necessary, therefore, since the progress of this which we call dental decay, entails more and more misery, threatens the complete disintegration of the dental system, and last but not the least to bring disfiguration of the facial contour of the civilized men, to call upon the other biological sciences to participate more freely in the immediate future than they have done in the past in the battle against this malady.

I have presented herewith a fairly accurate exposition of dental decay as it affected the Greek people during the last five thousand years and also the possibilities of combating it. Now I am ready to listen to others whose experience in dealing with other groups of people in various localities may have brought them more wisdom in this vital and all important subject.