"Have their teeth attended to first, and many of the eye defects will disappear." This was an unexpected contribution to the debate upon free eyeglasses for the school children of New York City. So little do most of us realize the importance of sound, clean teeth, and the interrelation of stomach and sense nerves, that even the school principals thought the eye specialist was exaggerating when he declared that bad teeth cause indigestion and indigestion causes eye strain.

"Bad" teeth mean to most people dirty teeth and offensive odors, loose, crooked, or isolated teeth, or black stumps. Even among dentists a great many, probably the majority, do not appreciate that "bad" teeth mean indigestion, lowered vitality, plague spots for contaminating sound teeth and for breeding disease germs. Until recently the only rule about the teeth of new recruits in the United States army was: "There must be two opposing molars on each side of the mouth. It doesn't matter how rotten these molars may be." The surgeon general was persuaded to change to "four opposing molars on each side"; still nothing as to the condition of the two additional molars! In the German army there is a regular morning inspection of teeth and toothbrushes. Several German insurance companies give free dental treatment to policy holders, not to bestow charity but to increase profits.

Neglecting "baby teeth" and adenoids may mean crooked second teeth that will cause: (1) hundreds of dollars for straightening; (2) permanent business handicap because crooked teeth are disagreeable to others, because mastication is less perfect, and because a disfigured mouth means dis-arranged nerves; or perhaps (3) large dental bills because it is difficult to clean between cramped, crooked teeth.

Unfortunately the great majority of parents rarely think of their children's teeth until too late to preserve them intact. Even among families where the rule of brushing the teeth twice daily prevails, regular dental examination is often not required. Doctors and dentists themselves have not been trained to realize that the teeth are a most dangerous source of infection when unclean. Does your dentist insist upon removing tartar and food particles beyond your reach, upon polishing and cleansing, or does he regard these as vanity touches, to be omitted if you are in a hurry?

Industrial Handicaps Discovered At School

Physicians send tuberculosis patients to hospitals or camps without correcting the mouth conditions that make it impossible for the patient to eat or swallow without infecting himself. Tonics are given to women whose teeth are breeding and harboring disease germs that tear down vitality. Nurses watch their suffering patients and do the heavier tasks heroically, but are not trained to teach the simple truths about dental hygiene. The far-reaching results of neglect of teeth will not be understood until greater emphasis is placed on the bacteriology, the economics, the sociology, and the æsthetics of clean, sound teeth. Whether or not there is at present a tendency to exaggerate the importance of sound teeth, there is no difference of opinion as to the fact that the teeth harbor virulent germs, that the high temperature of the mouth favors germ propagation, that the twenty to thirty square inches of surface constantly open to bacterial infection offer an extensive breeding ground, and that the formation of the teeth invites the lodgment of germs and of particles of food injurious both to teeth and to other organs.

By scraping the teeth with the finger nail and noticing the odor you can convince yourself of the presence of decomposing organic matter not healthful to be carried into the stomach. By applying a little iodine and then washing it off with water, your teeth may show stains. These stains are called gelatinous plaques, which are transparent and invisible to the naked eye except when colored by iodine. These plaques protect the germs, which ferment and create the acid which destroys tooth structure. Their formation can be prevented by vigorous brushing and by eating hard food.

The individual with decayed teeth, even with unclean teeth, is open to infection of the lungs, tonsils, stomach, glands, ears, nose, and adenoid tissues. Every time food is taken, and at every act of swallowing, germs flow over the tonsils into the stomach. Mouth breathers with teeth in this condition cannot get one breath of uncontaminated air, for every breath becomes infected with poisonous emanations from the teeth. Bad teeth are frequently the sole cause of bad breath and dyspepsia, and can convey to the system tuberculosis of the lungs, glands, stomach, or nose, and many other transmissible diseases. They may also cause enlarged tonsils and ear trouble.