Dentistry in the mid 20th Century

Posted on Jan 3, 2013

A few decades ago American teeth looked quite a bit different than the pearly white we all desire nowadays. In fact as late as the 1950's many places had no access to dental care of any kind.

In the mid-1900's Americans suffered from a lack of dental care. A public health journal reported in 1946 that the average child under the age of 10 had 7.5 cavities. Compare that to the 1.6 decayed teeth per child in America now.

World War II Draft Requirements

Early during the World War II draft, recruits needed three matching pairs of front and back teeth to be accepted into the military. Twelve teeth total.

The requirement was quickly abandoned because too many recruits were being rejected.

The Dentist Shortage

The dentist shortage began in the 1920's when stricter standards for dental schools were enacted and sub-par schools closed. This made for better quality dental care but only for those who lived in an area which happened to have a dentist. Few rural areas were this fortunate.

During the Great Depression the graduation rate sank even lower. After World War II there was an increase in the number of dentists but it was not enough to compensate for the rapidly growing population.

The South was particularly in need of dental service. The South had fewer dentists per capita than the rest of the country. Only one in four Georgia counties had a dentist in 1955.

Aren't you glad you live in a world where there are professionals who can help you keep the smile you want?