"Pink pills and patchwork"ľare you satisfied with these? Or, do you desire a saving knowledge which will enable you to prevent the troubles that heretofore, in our ignorance, made the pills and patchwork popular? Are you going to sacrifice your children and their teeth to the popular dental slogans; "a clean tooth never decays," and "see your dentist twice a year?"
Mothers, I am addressing these questions to you more than to fathers, for the reason that if the teeth of your children are to be sound and durable you must make them so. The assertion that "there must be the closest possible harmony between the physician and dentist in the care of the prospective mother, if we are to conserve the teeth of the coming generation," is the commercial interpretation placed upon the facts now in our possession, by those who want to keep their hands soft and white.
You have been taught that tooth decay is due to germs and that if your teeth are properly scrubbed and cleansed and are looked over periodically by the dentist, they will not decay. You have been told that the child's teeth must be brushed and brushed until you wear all the enamel away, if you would preserve its teeth. You have tried these methods faithfully for years now. You have bought toothbrushes of all kinds and worn them out on the teeth of your children. You have bought and used the toothpastes and tooth-powders. You have washed their little mouths with antiseptics. You have carried them to the dentists regularly for examinations.
So faithfully have you carried out this program, that the teeth of you and your children have polished horizontal grooves in them, these grooves often reaching down to and exposing the deeper layers of the dentin even the "secondary dentin." The gums have receded and are hypertrophied and hyperemic; their gingival borders have been ploughed away, and the teeth are sensitive. In spite of all this abuse so lavishly heaped upon the teeth, or is it partly because of it, your children's teeth are decayed and they suffer with caries, pyorrhea and trench mouth.
You have seen the manufacturers of tooth-pastes and tooth brushes grow rich; you have seen the dentists multiply like rabbits; you have seen the dental profession multiply itself into a number of professions or specialties. But the teeth of your children are worse than ever and their condition grows worse year by year.
You have been building on the sand. You have been listening to the siren song of commercialism. The boys with the soft white hands have been building up their trades but you have not saved your teeth or those of your children.
There is a deeper cause for tooth decay than the few germs that get onto the surfaces of our teeth. That cause exterts its baneful influence upon the growth and development of the teeth. That cause reaches back into the prenatal life of the child when the tissues of the teeth are being formed and developed.
If these things are not so, why then are so many teeth plainly defective when they erupt. They are small, distorted, overlaped, notched, have cavities in them and present other evidences of faulty structure and of lack of resistance to the forces of decay. It is so common to see the six-year molars, the first permanent teeth to erupt, come through with cavities in them.
Something more fundamental than a tooth brush and a biannual dental examination is required to prevent such a condition as this. Something more than these things are essential to the preservation of such teeth.
It is well to bear in mind that every tooth a man will ever have (except the false ones), is already formed or being formed in his jaws at birth. The teeth actually begin to be formed before any of their supporting structures in the bony alveolar process.
The anlage or germ appears as the dental ridge developing from the cells of the ectoderm, as early as the seventh week of fetal life. Out of this ridge the tooth-buds of the temporary teeth with the enamel organs, begin to be differentiated about the eighth week. These structures, invade the underlying mesoderm and together they form the "dental papilla" which become distinguish able during the ninth or tenth week.
The tooth-buds of all the deciduous teeth are definitely formed and the enamel organs of the permanent teeth have appeared by the fifteenth week. At about the twentieth week calcification sets in in the tip of the incisors to be followed by calcification in the canines and premolars in the twenty-fourth week.
The first permanent molars, in their origin and development, follow very closely the development of the temporary teeth. At about the fifteenth week their enamel organs first appear and this is followed two weeks later by the formation of their dental bulbs. The dental follices of these teeth are complete and their calcification has begun by the ninth month. All of the other permanent teeth have also been laid down by this time and are calcified during early childhood.