Medicine: Teeth & Geography

Two dentists at the Navy's Medical Research Institute made a surprising finding: though the North has many more dentists, Southerners have much better teeth. Commander Carl A. Schlack and Lieut. James E. Birren extracted this discovery from a study of dental records of 69,584 enlisted men. As measured by the number of cavities and fillings per man, New Englanders had by far the nation's poorest teeth, Southwesterners the best. Why?

The dentists' guesses: 1) Northerners eat more sugar; 2) the water in Texas (and neighboring states), unlike the North's, is rich in fluorine, which is believed to prevent cavities.

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