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How Dentists and Physicians Separated and Why It’s a Bad Thing: Historical Perspective

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Do the names Chapin Harris or Horace Hayden sound familiar? Perhaps not.

Here’s a  hint: They may be “responsible” for the fact that dentistry and medicine have basically evolved side-by-side with very little overlap or interaction. Apparently these forward-thinking self-trained dentists in mid-19th-century Baltimore approached the faculty at the prestigious University of Maryland’s college of medicine with a radical proposal: incorporate dental instruction into the school’s curriculum.  After a resounding no from the college, Harris, Hayden, and others helped founded the first professional organization for dentists as well as the first dental school, the Balitmore College of Dental Surgery, in 1840.

While those are just fun facts, an article just posted on The Atlantic’s web site dives deep into the dental-medical divide, how it started, why it’s persisted, and how it has affected healthcare and, more generally, health.

The author interviews healthcare journalist and blogger Mary Otto, who became interested—read obsessed—with the topic following her assignment to report on the Deamonte Driver incident. Otto's written a book titled, TEETH The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America. About the book, a reviewer said, "It joins the small shelf of books that change the way we view society and ourselves and will spark an urgent conversation about why our teeth matter." 

Check out the Atlantic piece…..it's a thought-provoking read.

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