Reexamination is necessary because decay may start the day after a dentist has pronounced a tooth sound. For most of us twice a year is often enough. A reexamination should be made upon the slightest suspicion of decay, breaking, or loosening.

Educational use should be made by the teacher of the results of school examination. Children cannot be made self-conscious and cleanly by telling them that their teeth will ache three or five years from now. They can be made to brush or wash their teeth every morning and every night if they once realize that cavities can be caused only by mouth garbage. All decay of human teeth starts from the outside through the enamel that covers the soft bone of the tooth. This enamel can be destroyed by accidentally cracking or breaking it, or by acids eating into it. These acids come from (1) particles of food allowed to remain in the teeth; (2) tartar, etc., that adheres to the teeth and can be removed only by a dentist; (3) saliva brought up from an ill-conditioned stomach. Even where the enamel is destroyed, absolute cleanliness will prevent serious decay of the tooth. A perfectly clean tooth will not decay. Generally speaking, unless particles of food or removable acids remain on or between the teeth long enough to decompose, teeth cannot decay. Decay always means, therefore, uncleanliness. To unclean teeth is due in large part the offensive odor of many schoolrooms.

An Armenian School Girl

Uncleanliness becomes noticeable to our neighbors sooner or later. There is no offense we are so reluctant to commit as that of having uncleanliness of our bodies disagreeable to those about us. Very young children will make every effort in their power to live up to the school's standard of cleanliness. The other side to this reason for having clean teeth is vanity. Because all cleanliness is beautiful to us, clean teeth are one attribute of beauty that all of us can possess.

Habits of cleanliness are easily fixed. In the most crowded, most overworked section of large cities visitors from "uptown" are surprised by the children's bright hair ribbons, clean aprons, clean faces, and smoothly combed hair. It will be easy to add clean teeth to the list of things necessary to personal and family standing. Armenian children are taught to clean their teeth after eating, even if only an apple between meals. They covet "beautiful teeth." American standards will soon prevent these Armenians from cleaning their teeth in public, but desire for beautiful teeth will stay, and will remind them to care for their teeth in private. As coarse food gives way to sugars and soft foods, stiff toothbrushes must supplement tongue and toothpicks.

Strong as are the instinct and display motives in cleaning teeth, both parents and children need to be reached through the commerce motive. Instinct makes children afraid of the dentist, or content when the tooth stops aching. Display may be satisfied with cleaning the front teeth, as many boys comb only the front hair or as girls hide dirty scalps under pompadours and pretty ribbons. Desire to save money may give stronger reasons for not going to the dentist than instinct and comfort can urge for going. But parents can be made to see, as can children after they begin to picture themselves as wage earners, that a dentist in time saves nine, and that no regular family investment will earn more money than the price of prompt and regular dental care. A problem in arithmetic would be convincing, if, by questions such as those on page 98, we could compare the family cost of neglecting teeth with the cost of toothbrushes, bicarbonate of soda, pulverized chalk or tooth powder, early and repeated examination by a dentist, and treatment when needed.

How many members in your family?

How many teeth have they?

How many teeth have they lost?

How many false teeth have they?

How many teeth have been filled?

What is the total cost to date?

How many days have been lost from work because of toothache?

How many teeth are now decayed?

What will it cost to have them attended to?


What does a toothbrush cost?

How many do you need in one year?

How much does tooth powder cost?

How much is needed for one year?

How much would two examinations a year by a dentist cost?