(1) In the Greek race, caries first appeared about the 22nd century B.C. Its rate has been increasing for over 4,000 years. (2) At present there are definite regional differences in the percentages of carious teeth among the children of villages, country towns and cities. The highest rates occur in the country towns ; the lowest, in the villages. (3) These rates are definitely related to the qualitative and quantitative ingredients of the diet.
(a) At a period in the social development of the Greek race, corresponding tothe beginning of the copper age, caries or faulty tooth development appeared. The rate of dental deterioration has been progressive with the advance of civilization. This dental abnormality seems to have been brought to the southern part of the mainland, and increased by racial intermixture and introduction of new modes of living. (b) Hereditary influence among the natives who were free from caries, and the low rate of racial intercourse with outsiders, kept the increasing caries very low during the pre-Christian era-1 percent for approximately a thousand years. Lack of luxurious diet during the dark ages had no effect on the increasing rate. Food deficiency probably helped to increase the rate, despite the influence of simplicity in living. (c) During the past fifty years, concentration of the population into crowded areas, and specialization in agricultural production, caused changes in diet that have intensified the rate of caries. Absence of differences in race, water supply, climatic conditions, etc., among the groups of children of ” preliminary school age” (7 to 13 years), emphasizes the fact that the great regional differences are due to qualitative and quantitative values in diet. Until the etiologic factor of caries is definitely ascertained and controlled, retardation in the rate of progress of caries is the best that can be accomplished. This benefit, for the greater part of the population, will be possible only through diet. Unfortunately, food ingredients from which this gain is to be derived are constituents of the general diet. Since one half of the people cannot afford an adequate food supply, improvement for them does not seem to be possible.
References: Transactions of (a) Int. Den. Cong., 1931, 1936; (b) Acad. Athens, 1934; (c) Am. Den. Soc. Europe, 1935; (d) Anthrop. Soc. Athens, 1935.