“Finding a new dentist can be scary,” writes Dr. Teresa Yang, in her new book Nothing but the Tooth: An Insider’s Guide to Dental Health. “The relationship with your dentist is an especially close one, because she is working inches from your body. You’re vulnerable, and with your mouth propped open, some- times powerless to even speak up. Choosing one can be a leap of faith. Recently, both my ophthalmologist and my family practice physician asked for a dental referral. Makes sense, right?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: https://www.dentistryiq.com/resources/contact/14297836/teresa-yang-dds
Ask a dentist if she knows a good dentist.” By starting the book from a humanistic standpoint, rather than a more clinical angle – Dr. Yang is able to immediately humanize a professional often dreaded by the average consumer. She’s able to make one appreciate something that for most can feel everyday, reminding them of the intricate, dynamic, and critical choices one is responsible for when it comes to their oral healthcare. In addition to this, she’s able to show like any effective communicator how said profession is something interesting and has much to offer, not just for the consumer, but ideologically. Dr. Yang also highlights the shifts in the dental field, including more females and minorities entering dental medicine.
“When I first began practicing, many patients sought me out because I am a woman. When I searched for a practice to buy in the 1980s, virtually all the sellers were male, predominantly white, and much older. Not only was the equipment outdated, but the decor felt stale,” writes Dr. Yang, at the beginning of the book. “Mostly I didn’t think the patients would accept me, a young woman, as a substitute for their longtime dentist. So instead I started my own practice. Since then, dentist demographics have changed substantially. By 2018–2019, more than half the dental students in the United States were female. In 2018, 32 percent of dentists identified as women and 28 percent as minorities.”
Through the pages of this read, Dr. Yang is able to also highlight many other, profound facets of the dental history – both contemporary and historical. One of the more intriguing passages in this vein is Yang’s highlighting of certain dental diseases and problems that can be traced back to historical bases. “Fossil records indicate that when humans roamed the earth as hunter-gatherers two million years ago, they didn’t suffer from malocclusion (bad bite),” she writes, in a key passage. “Not only did they have straight teeth, they also had ample room for their wisdom teeth. Humans had large, powerful jaws they used to tear meat. So what happened? Our teeth remained the same, but our jaws began to shrink.
Several events contributed to this evolution. The use of stone tools allowed humans to manipulate and cut meat into bite-sized pieces, thus reducing our chewing effort. We transitioned into an agrarian society, growing a variety of softer foods to supplement our carnivorous diet. The harnessing of fire, possibly four hundred thousand years ago, meant we could cook our food into an even more manageable texture. With each of these revolutionary events in human development, our jaws continued to shrink.”