Present Conceptions of Dental Focal Infection

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The significance which has been attached to the rôle of dental focal infection in the causation of systemic diseases has led to extremes in its application in many cases, with the result that its importance has been doubted by those practitioners who attempt to justify therapeutic measures by rational rather than by empirical methods. The hypothesis of this interrelationship is complex and a comprehensive knowledge of the physiology and pathology of the body as a whole is essential before the problem may be evaluated properly.

The purpose of this paper is to attempt to correlate the observations which have been made and the present conceptions of the relationship between dental infection and systemic disease. To these will be added the results we have obtained in attempting to apply the observations made by investigators in this field.

The theory and principles of focal infection are not new. Historians record such consideration by the Egyptians some 2600 years ago, and Hippocrates is said to have recommended the removal of decayed teeth for the relief of rheumatism. In 1818 Benjamin Rush1 of Revolutionary fame, and one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, reported cases of systemic disease which he ascribed to dental infection and about which he wrote, “I have been made happy by discovering that I have only added to the observations of other physicians in pointing out a connection between the extraction of decayed and diseased teeth and the cure of general diseases . . . When we consider. . .



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