THERE is nothing new in the observation that savages, or peoples living under primitive conditions, have, in general, excellent teeth. This fact is a matter of record based upon casual examinations of contemporary primitives made by travellers, explorers, and scientists, and established with better documentation by the studies of teeth preserved in skeletal collections of savages recently or more remotely extinct. Nor is it news that most civilized populations possess wretched teeth which begin to decay almost before they have erupted completely, and that dental caries is likely to be accompanied by periodontal disease with further reaching complications. Indeed this has been a matter of grave concern to the dental profession for more than a generation, and rightly so. A great deal of elaborate and patient research and experimentation has been expended upon this problem of the etiology and control of dental caries, but I do not suppose that anyone would claim that it has been solved. At any rate, the dentists are still busily engaged in drilling our cavities and in plugging them. A quantity of excellent evidence has been amassed which indicates that dental caries is, to a great extent, connected with malnutrition and with deficient diets.
Since we have known for a long time that savages have excellent teeth and that civilized men have terrible teeth, it seems to me that we have been extraordinarily stupid in concentrating all of our attention upon the task of finding out why our teeth are so poor, without ever bothering to learn why savage teeth are good. Dr. Weston Price seems to be the only person who possesses the scientific horse sense to supplement his knowledge of the probable causes of dental disease with a study of the dietary regimens which are associated with dental health. In other words, Dr. Price has accomplished one of those epochal pieces of research which make every other investigator desirous of kicking himself because he never thought of doing the same thing. This is an exemplification of the fact that really gifted scientists are those who can appreciate the obvious.
So Dr. Price has found out why primitive men have good teeth and why their teeth go bad when they become "civilized." But he has not stopped there: he has gone on to apply his knowledge acquired from savages to the problems of their less intelligent civilized brothers. For I think that we must admit that if savages know enough to eat the things which keep their teeth healthy, they are more intelligent in dietary matters than we are. So I consider that Dr. Price has written what is often called "a profoundly significant book." The principal difference between Dr. Price's work and many others so labelled is that in the present instance the designation happens to be correct. I salute Dr. Price with the sincerest admiration (the kind that is tinged with envy) because he has found out something which I should like to have discovered for myself.