October 18, 2011

Trend Alert: Teeth Disappearing, 1897

This fine example of absurd, alarmist journalism comes from The Princeton Union of Princeton, Minnesota on September 9, 1897:


A Terrible Callamity Promised for the Coming Generations.

What is to be done about it, or will the future race be consent to do without teeth? asks the Boston Herald.  According to an experienced dentist, education is playing sad havoc with the teeth of the modern generation.  The change in them has been apparently rapid, more so than in other physical deteriorations, and, dentistry having become a science, the cause is sought with hopes to stay the effect.  Formerly, says the dentist, decayed teeth were attributed to a fondness for sweets, but this idea is a mistake.  Sugar is nourishing, and taken with a wholesome diet and proper care of the teeth it doesn't harm them.  The truth is that the ancient sturdy square jaw of the Anglo-Saxon race is changing through over-much study and over-reduction to a V shape, which presses the molars one upon the other and does not give them room to grow, and will in time prevent them cutting at all.  The horse lost his five toes through disease; the man is about to lose his "wisdom" teeth through a like process.  The "wisdomers" are already missing in many jaws.  This singular to relate, makes the "educated jaw."  English women are not averse to this V-shaped angle of chin.  They are distinguished for the length and breadth of the teeth, and would gladly see their ivories diminish under the new facial form.  Girton and Newnham, Radcliffe and Vassar are responsible for much of this "educated" jaw.  The young men are not sorry to have less teeth to be filled, and as personal vanity plays little part in their physical culture they would as soon be toothless as not.  But suppose more study, more "higher education" aids this process of evolution and in the course of time the grandchildren of the students of today have jaws like chipmunks and never, no never, cut any teeth, what then?  Will the dentists' occupation be gone; or will they, as a writer suggests, then manufacture complete artificial sets for people from the day of their birth onward?

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