Medicine: Today's Dentistry: a New Drill

Physicians of the mouth do more than just fill teeth

The ad was a classic of the late '50s: a child runs across a suburban lawn, arms outspread, beaming broadly and shouting, "Look, Mom--no cavities!" That sales pitch, offered when fluoridated toothpastes were introduced, hardly seemed credible. Few American children, nurtured as they were (and still are) on candy bars and other sweets, returned from a dental checkup in triumph. In fact, it was not unusual for a child to have five, six or seven cavities at a time, and just as many the following year. Tooth decay was a perennial national problem that meant a mouthful of silver for patients,...

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