Making the American Mouth: Dentists and Public Health in the Twentieth Century

By

Alyssa Picard, PhD, Negotiator for the American Federation of Teachers’ Michigan state affiliate, Instructor in the history of social movements, Wayne State University’s Labor School in Detroit.

Book Description

Why are Americans so uniquely obsessed with teeth? Perfect white, straight teeth.Making the American Mouth is at once a history of United States dentistry and a study of a billion-dollar industry. Alyssa Picard chronicles the forces that limited Americans access to dental care in the early twentieth century and the ways dentists worked to expand that access–and improve the public image of their profession. Comprehensive in scope, this work describes how dentists early public health commitments withered under the strain of fights over fluoride, mid-century social movements for racial and gender equity, and pressure to insure dental costs. It explains how dentists came to promote cosmetic services, and why Americans were so eager to purchase them. As we move into the twenty-first century, dentists success in shaping their industry means that for many, the perfect American smile will remain a distant–though tantalizing–dream.

Editorial Reviews

Review

This fascinating book is the first to explore the social and cultural history of dentistry in the United States. Alyssa Picard skillfully illuminates the relationship between the emerging dental profession and contemporary developments in child health, American consumer culture, and gender and race relations in the United States. She draws on an impressive range of primary sources to illustrate the historical roots of Americans’ ‘dental obsession.’ – Heather Munro Prescott, professor of history, Central Connecticut State University”In Making the American Mouth, Alyssa Picard provides us with a much needed and long overdue illumination and analysis of the important role that dentistry has played in 20th century American health care and public health. —Richard Meckel, Brown University“This fascinating book is the first to explore the social and cultural history of dentistry in the United States. Picard skillfully illuminates the relationship between the emerging dental profession and contemporary developments in child health, American consumer culture, and gender and race relations in the United States. She draws on an impressive range of primary sources to illustrate the historical roots of AmericansÂ’ ‘dental obsession’.”
Heather Munro Prescott, professor of history, Central Connecticut State University

In Making the American Mouth, Alyssa Picard provides us with a much needed and long overdue illumination and analysis of the important role that dentistry has played in 20th century American health care and public health.”
Richard Meckel, Brown University

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Rutgers University Press (May 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813545358
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813545356
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds

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