This interview was originally published in the
March/April 1979 issue of the MOTHER EARTH NEWS magazine.
The Plowboy Interview with Dr.
Robert O. Nara
In 1819 a dentist named Levi S. Parmly wrote a book called
A Practical Guide to the Management of the Teeth . . .
Comprising a Discovery of the Origin of Caries, or Decay of
the Teeth, with its Prevention and Cure.
Dr. G. V. BlackSome 77 years later, Dr. G. V. Black closed his
address to a group of dental school graduates with these
"The day is coming, and perhaps within the lifetime of you
young men, when we will be engaged in practicing preventive
rather than reparative dentistry.''
Yet the U.S. Public Health Service tells us that 98 out of
every 100 men, women, and children in the United States still
suffer from some form of dental disease. And American Dental
Association figures indicate that the average American has 14
teeth decayed, filled, or missing by the time he or she
reaches 20 years of age! Just what has happened to the dream
of preventive dentistry?
"It isn't a dream anymore, it's a reality!" says Dr. Robert
Nara of Houghton, Michigan, who adds, "Dental disease-tooth
decay and bad gums -- can be eliminated . . . I've been doing
it for almost 20 years.' "
These are pretty strong words ... especially to those of us
who are suffering from the pain and financial losses caused by
conventional reparative dentistry. But Bob Nara is sure of his
message . . . S0 sure, in fact, that he has put his means of
earning a living on the line in a bitter struggle with the
dental establishment (those professional organizations which,
Nara claims, condition this country's dentists to do no more
than "help the patient's mouth rest comfortably while the
MOTHER was curious about Nara 's claims and about the system
of preventive cure, called Oramedics, that the Michigan
dentist has designed to help "spread the word " that dental
disease can be eradicated.
And so staffer Bruce Woods flew up to the Wolverine state for
a talk with Nara, who had -- not long before -- had his
license suspended by the Michigan State Dental Association.
This transcript of their conversation contains some statements
that - if true -- paint a shocking picture of a "medical"
profession that has the means to insure dental health but,
instead, allows political and economic pressures to limit its
practice to treating symptoms . . . while it completely
ignores the causes of tooth and gum disease.
Whether you finish this interview as a believer in Oramedics
or not, we think you owe it to your mouth to read what Bob
Nara has to say.
PLOWBOY: Dr. Nara, your ideas about preventive dentistry have,
so far, cost you your license to practice, gotten you kicked
out of the county, state, and national dental organizations,
and forced you to face criminal charges. I know this situation
didn't develop overnight, so why don't we begin at the
beginning. Can you tell me about your training and
NARA: Of course. I took my undergraduate degree at Michigan
State University--in East Lansing, Michigan--in 1955.
Immediately thereafter, I enrolled in the University of
Michigan's dental school. After graduation. I served in the
Navy for two years ... during which time I practiced dentistry
at the Pacific missile range headquarters in California. I
returned to Houghton, Michigan when my hitch was up and set
myself up in private practice in 1961.
PLOWBOY: How did it happen that your work turned toward
preventive, rather than reparative dentistry?
NARA: Well, first of all, I was taught enough microbiology,
oral physiology, and biochemistry in dental school to get a
pretty fair understanding of the processes that contribute to
dental disease. This "medical" material, however, was
presented to us in a rather hit-or-miss pattern .. . with bits
of information dribbling in during one class or another. What
my schooling really prepared me for, however--and what any
student in dental school is actually trained to do-was
mechanics . . . drilling and filling.
PLOWBOY: Don't the dental schools encourage preventive care?
NARA: No, they don't encourage it at all! And there's another
factor that contributes to the lack of preventive dentistry in
the United States, too. You see, most young dentists--upon
graduation-have a very substantial educational debt to take
care of. Then, in order to get a practice started, these men
and women have to go out and buy more than $50,000 worth of
equipment! So there is, as you can see, tremendous pressure
put upon the beginning dentist to get going and bring in some
money. I believe that many of these people would like to be
able to start their practices by teaching folks how to clean
their mouths, but the simple truth is that the big money is in
reparative work. So, the new dentist--who, as I've said, is
really under the economic gun--puts off his or her ideas about
prevention until after the bills are paid . . . and once that
pattern is established, it never really gets broken.
PLOWBOY: Can you be more specific about that "pattern"?
NARA: Certainly. You see, after a beginning practitioner has
become convinced that mechanical repair is the only way to get
out of debt, he or she will usually spend a long period of
time doing little else. Now, reparative dentistry is, for the
most part, dull, tedious, and--in all but a financial
sense--unrewarding work. It doesn't take much of this sort of
drudgery to kill off any idealism that might have motivated
the dentist to try prevention in the first place.
It seems that many of these doctors eventually come to regard
dental health from the same frame of reference as most of the
American public does ... that dental disease is inevitable and
that everyone will lose his or her teeth sooner or later.
Naturally, once this attitude takes over--and it may be a "gut
feeling'' that's never actually spoken about or even
consciously thought--the dentist begins to feel that
prevention is a waste of time . . . and so the status quo
PLOWBOY: But this common attitude didn't keep you from
practicing preventive therapy?
NARA: No, it didn't, and I think there are several reasons why
I was able to maintain my interest in prevention. For one
thing, I'm a pretty stubborn individual. For another. I
dislike even trying to treat a mouth that isn't clean. I mean,
why go through the time and effort necessary to really remove
decay and place nice fillings when you know--because the mouth
itself is not being cared for--that the new work is going to
be decayed all around its margins in six months or a year?
There's simply not much job satisfaction in enlarging the same
filling time after time until the tooth has to come out.
So, early in my practice I tried to put together a plan that
would motivate my patients, to help them establish an
effective oral hygiene program. I failed miserably--as I
should have known I would--because nobody wanted to listen.
My patients, at that time, shared the common attitude: "Come
on, Doc, just get that tooth filled, or get this one pulled.
and let me out of here." Because most folks don't want to
spend any more time than is absolutely necessary in a
dentist's office, they want to get away from that chair and
away from those drills as quickly as possible.
PLOWBOY: This "fear" would seem to be related to the frame of
reference you spoke of earlier.
NARA: Right, it's part of the same attitude. And, because of
that frame of reference, a dentist can talk till he or she's
blue in the face about keeping the mouth healthy and so forth.
Nobody wants to hear about it . . . nobody even believes it !
PLOWBOY: Do people actually doubt that prevention can be
effective, or do they simply feel that they lack the willpower
to follow through with such a program?
NARA: I think that--in most cases--a combination of both these
beliefs is at work . . . because the concept of a really
effective oral health program is simply beyond the scope of
most people's experience. For example, note the toothpaste ads
that are run on television: "Look. Mom, only one cavity ! "
Now, that ad is claiming--and the manufacturers of that
product are claiming--that really good prevention will result
in only one cavity every six months! At that rate, a person
could have more than 32 fillings by the time he or she reaches
21 years of age! It's crazy, and this kind of advertising
contributes to our national indifference toward the prevention
of dental disease.
Another problem with the traditional approach to oral hygiene
is that it's all "teach, teach, teach". Now adults,
especially--and even children to a large degree--don't really
appreciate being told that someone is going to teach them
something. Most folks consider the very suggestion that they
need education to be an insult, a put-down. Yet, many "modern"
dental offices have a room with a big sign on the door that
says. "Patient Education Room". The sign might as well say.
"This Way, Dummy", because that's exactly the feeling that's
PLOWBOY: How did you manage to communicate the necessary
information without insulting your patients, then?
NARA: Well, I knew that most people avoid the dentist's office
until they need work done . . . usually either a filling or an
extraction. And people in pain aren't likely to be receptive
to a cute story about preventing the disease. So, I had to
design a system that would penetrate, first, the preoccupation
with money worries and physical discomfort that most folks
bring to the office with them. And I also had to figure out a
way to change the preconception that nothing can be done about
tooth decay and gum disease anyway.
With all of these cards stacked against me. I knew that I
needed a very effective psychological delivery system. So, I
spent a lot of time thinking about it, saying to myself. "How
can I do this?"
My goal was to stop disease, and I was sure that I could stop
it--I had all of the scientific evidence in the world to back
me up--if I could get the patients' help and cooperation.
And that's what the "method" that I came to call Oramedics
does: It enables me to get the patients to cooperate, to take
the control of their own oral environment into their own
hands. And the system works!
PLOWBOY: But as soon as you started practicing this form of
prevention, you began to encounter resistance from the dental
establishment. When did the first signs of your coming "war"
with organized dentistry show up?
NARA: I began working, in 1968, to bring about some changes in
the outmoded dental laws that still exist in much of the U.S.
At that point I was mainly concerned with setting up a system
that would help the dentist to be more effective in his or her
job. Part of the problem, as I saw it, was that most dentists
simply didn't have the time to handle health education
effectively. I felt that this situation could be remedied if
the doctors were able to delegate some of the more routine
dental tasks to paradental personnel. After all, there are
many new types of paramedical jobs and paralegal jobs today,
but we really don't have any new paradental positions . . .
there haven't been any "new kids on the team" for years.
So, I started lecturing that dental assistants should be
trained to polish teeth, to give fluoride treatments, and so
forth... in order to allow these people to become really
worthwhile members of the dental health team. I pushed pretty
hard to get new laws passed that would help bring about these
changes. For instance. I got myself elected to the American
Dental Association's House of Delegates in 1971 and spent four
years pushing for modern laws.
Unfortunately, dental laws fall under the category of state's
rights, so--even though the House of Delegates did vote to
recommend liberalized legislation--direct action could only be
taken at the state level. And it just so happens that my home
state of Michigan is one of the most backward places--in terms
of dental progress--in the Union. This is because we have a
network of long-entrenched "dental politicians" in Michigan.
In many states, on the other hand, there is a regular turnover
among professional politicians, because many people compete
for these positions. Michigan, however, lacks that healthy
competition, and old dental ideas are seldom challenged here.
In fact, just as an example, we had two men-- father and
son-who ran the Michigan State Board of Dentistry for 40 years
Anyway, I went to work, through the appropriate political
channels, and helped to get rid of some of these people who
were--I thought--standing in the way of necessary change. And,
in the process of fighting the entrenched hierarchy. I did
make some enemies . . . enemies who are still "haunting" me
The first real sign of the troubles to come, however, showed
up in April of 1968. I was called, at that time, before the
State Board of Dentistry and told--by one of the Board's
members-that I'd lose my license if I continued to rock the
boat. I replied that I believed myself to be in the right,
that I was acting in the public interest, and that I would
continue to do so regardless of whatever he was tempted to do
in retaliation. The board member responded by saying. "We'll
get you." And it took him 10 years, 10 long years of battles
in the professional organizations and in the courts, to
finally take my license away from me.
The State Board chose to attack me on the ground that I was
training my assistants to perform the routine tasks I
described above. They tried to force me to stop doing this,
and I, of course, refused. Then, in 1972, one of my
assistants--while following my instructions--placed a
medicated piece of cotton in a patient's cavity . . . and the
man returned the next day with warrants for my assistant's and
my arrest. He was actually the attorney who served as chief
investigator for the Dental Board's Department of Licensing
PLOWBOY: And what was the outcome of that 1972 arrest?
NARA: Well, it eventually led to an arraignment. And, at the
hearing, the judge explained to me that--if I were found
guilty as charged--I could spend a year in jail and be fined
up to $500.
He then asked me how I intended to plead, and I told him
The judge was upset by this. "You're putting me in a rough
spot here. Doctor," he said. I asked him what he meant, and he
explained that--if I didn't plead''not guilty''--he'd have to
sentence me. I replied that I was at fault, that I had allowed
my assistants to polish teeth and so forth. So, the judge
turned off his tape recorder, leaned over the bench, and
advised me to get myself a lawyer and to give the matter some
serious thought before I came to trial. Well, I didn't hire an
attorney. I didn't want one, because my attitude was that the
laws themselves were wrong ... and I figured that I might just
as well be the person who challenged them.
At any rate, it took another six months for the case to
actually come to trial, and the State Dental Board must have
gotten a bit worried by that time. It looked pretty certain
that the judge was going to have to throw me in the slammer
for a year, and the Board must have decided that they'd get a
lot of bad press if they sent a dentist to jail for letting
his assistants perform routine tasks, so they dropped the
PLOWBOY: Was that the end of your troubles?
NARA: Everything did settle down for a while. I was, at the
time, writing research proposals for Michigan Technological
University. And, about a year after the trial, I came up with
a really unique proposal that seemed to have a very good
chance of being accepted. While I was out of town lecturing,
however, the president of the Copper County District Dental
Society went to the dean of the university's School of
Business--who was in charge of the grant proposal program--and
told him that the college should take my name off the proposal
and put the Dental Society president's name on it! The
president threatened that--if this wasn't done--the Society's
members would write letters to the Department of Health,
Education. and Welfare saying that they did not want this
research done in their area. Of course, HEW isn't likely to
try to conduct research in any given area if the local doctors
oppose that study . . . because the project would become a
PLOWBOY: Are you referring to the peer pressure that could be
put on the researchers?
NARA: Correct. Anyway, the dean was upset--he didn't want to
lose the grant that might mean several million dollars to his
university--and, as he was unable to reach me, he gave in. My
name was taken off the proposal and the name of the president
of the County District Dental Society was put on.
I was, of course, very angry when I heard about this, because
the proposal was my work! So--since I had no other course of
action available--I filed a complaint with the Dental Society
against its own president! In retaliation, the Society simply
disbanded and then reorganized itself . . . thereby clearing
the records of all former complaints!
But, although those local dental politicians had effectively
swept my charges under the table, they were really riled that
I'd had the gall to attack them. Soon after they had
reorganized their little club, Society dentists sent a series
of letters to the Department of Licensing and Regulation.
These documents charged me with unethical conduct on the
grounds that I was still training my dental assistants to
polish teeth and perform other such routine chores.
Ironically, while I was being hassled for training my
assistants to polish teeth, the major dental journals were
carrying ads for a portable device that would allow patients
to polish their own teeth at home!
And, to make the situation even more ludicrous. I was then-and
still am--qualified to teach in any dental school in the
country. I don't need a single additional credit to train
young people to become dentists . .. and yet my profession
attacked me for teaching dental assistants to polish teeth!
PLOWBOY: The charge is almost identical to that made in 1972 .
. how were the members of the Dental Society able to make it
stick in this case?
NARA: In 1972 they had tried to "get" me in the civil courts
and had let those charges drop for fear of bad publicity. In
this instance, however, they decided to handle the matter
themselves and stay out of the courts. So I was charged,
before the Michigan State Board of Dentistry, with letting an
unlicensed assistant polish teeth and with ''advertising an
unrecognized specialty". The latter accusation refers to an ad
that I had placed in the local yellow pages. The advertisement
read: "Specializing in Oramedics ... for people with teeth who
want to keep them." You should know, too, that it is not
illegal for a dentist to advertise in Michigan. For instance,
dentists have run ads saying that they specialized in
dentures, or root canals, or something like that, and they
have had no problems. Oramedics, however, is not a term that
the American Dental Associstion or the Michigan State Dental
Association recognizes. And, on the basis of those two
charges, they were ultimately able to suspend my license for
Even more ludicrous ... I don 't need a
single additional (college) credit to train young people to
become dentists . . . and yet my profession attacked me for
teaching dental assistants to polish teeth!
PLOWBOY: When did this suspension take effect?
NARA: On February 15. 1978.
PLOWBOY: Did you then make any effort to appeal the Board's
NARA: Yes, I did. As a first step, I filed an appeal, based on
what I felt was the unconstitutionality of Michigan's dental
codes . . . and charging, also, that the board was guilty of
misconduct because of the manner in which the proceedings were
held and the findings reached.
You see, the Board had, as usual, hired a hearing examiner-in
this instance he was an administrative judge named Wayne
Lusk--to rule on the case. But Lusk found me innocent: He said
that the Oramedics-related charges "failed to establish a
violation"! The Board, however, threw Lusk's report out,
upheld the charges against me, and then also voted never to
use Mr. Lusk--who had 35 years' experience as a hearing
At any rate, I filed an appeal-- based upon the discrepancies
in the dental codes and on this "irregularity'' --with the
state appeals court.
PLOWBOY: And did the appeals court give you any help?
NARA: No, the court was also presented with a
"counterstatement of facts'' from the State Board of
Dentistry, and it denied my appeal for "lack of merit and
PLOWBOY: Have you taken any further steps to clear yourself?
NARA: I've appealed to the Michigan State Supreme Court.
They've had my appeal for some 10 months now and have yet to
decide if they'll even hear the case! This delay is curious,
as I was assured--by Mr. Bruce Lindstrom, who was then the
aide in charge of Upper Peninsula affairs for Governor
Milliken--that my appeal would be handled quickly and that a
stay of my license suspension would be granted, automatically,
while the appeal was in progress. Lindstrom told me this when
the appeal was first filed. He has since resigned, and I've
still gotten no word from the Supreme Court.
PLOWBOY: It does seem as if you're being singled out for
''special treatment''. Do you have any theories that could
explain this apparent vendetta?
NARA: In my opinion the whole thing boils down to one simple
fact: The dental establishment is scared to death that the
public is going to realize that the entire profession has been
making a living by repairing the results of a disease they
could have been curing all along! I just happen to be, at the
present time, the person who is in the best position to expose
Nothing was resolved in my prior encounters with the county
and state dental associations, because they dropped their
charges and swept mine under the table. This time, however, I
think there's going to be a winner and a loser, and my
opponents are pulling out all the stops to keep me under
wraps. They're soliciting a lot of support, too--by using
loaded terms like "unethical conduct"-among those
indoctrinated dentists who don't want anyone upsetting their
very lucrative apple carts.
PLOWBOY: Why do you refer to "unethical conduct" as a loaded
NARA: I think many people would feel that the phrase has an
almost "dirty" ring to it . . . it sounds like it has
something to do with morality. This is not really the case,
however, because--in medical jargon--the functional meaning of
"ethics" is usually "not squealing on another doctor". If the
other guy makes a mistake, you are expected--because of your
professional ethics--not to expose him. You can imagine, then,
why the dental establishment has come so unglued about my case
. . . because I haven't discriminated, I haven't singled out
any individuals, I'm exposing the whole profession's lack of
concern about disease prevention! And, of course, if there
weren't anything there to expose, it's unlikely that I would
have drawn such a violent reaction.
Strangely enough, however, the whole battle could have been
avoided. I wouldn't have had anything to expose if the dental
establishment had allowed me to continue to practice and
develop my methods. It would have been easy--and mutually
beneficial--for all of us to work together and share each
other's ideas for the good of the patients and of the
profession. But, when they took my license away and threw me
out of their associations, they left me no recourse but to
fight, and that's what I'm doing.
PLOWBOY: And how are you striking back at the associations
that have attacked you?
NARA: I've filed a suit against the American Dental
Association, the Michigan State Dental Association, and the
Copper County District Dental Society for eight million
dollars in damages. I didn't want to sue, and I still don't,
but i have no other way to defend myself at this point.
PLOWBOY: The National Health Federation Bulletin recently
cited a 1974 study in which a group of dentists were asked
whether they felt that they had an effective preventive
dentistry program in their offices. If the answer was "no",
the study requested the reasons for this lack. Some 88% of the
dentists questioned explained the absence of such a program by
saying that they were uncertain about the financial aspects of
disease prevention. Do you feel that this sort of "office
economics" is behind some of the opposition to your
"Oramedics" approach to preventive dentistry?
NARA: Oh, I'm sure it is! For example, did you realize that
there's a $30-million-a-year business going on in denture
teeth alone . . . I don't mean full dentures, just the little
white beans that dentists stick into the plastic form that
they call a denture. And that figure only represents one small
item. If you multiply it by all of the filling materials,
bridges, inlays, and so forth, you can see that there is a
tremendous amount of financial interest in maintaining the
There's another angle to this economic concern, too. When we
all but eliminated polio we didn't put physicians out of
business ... in fact, we couldn't ever do without M.D.'s ...
because we seem to replace every disease that we are able to
eliminate with another that was almost unheard of before. But
dentistry is--for all intents and purposes--based on one
disease. If you can eliminate that disease--and you can! --the
job market for dentists would eventually be limited to
cosmetic work and regular preventive checkups. The future
simply wouldn't hold enough work for the number of dentists
that we have today.
I've tried to discuss this possibility in my lectures, to calm
the fears that it creates among my cohorts. After all, those
people that are practicing today don't have a thing to worry
about. There's so much dental disease in this country right
now that we could all spend the rest of our lives just trying
to correct the existing problems! I feel, however, that we are
morally obligated to prevent disease whenever and wherever we
can ... and that the focal point of our efforts has to come in
children's dentistry, where the damage can be stopped before
Of course, the ADA would claim that it does concentrate on
prevention for children . . . with things like the Children's
Dental Health Week. But the fact is that those programs have
been totally ineffective.
For example, our dental establishment constantly assures us
that we have the finest system of dental care in the world.
Yet a study was recently done in New Zealand to determine how
many school children--out of a random sampling of 10,000-were
missing any permanent teeth. That study turned up 18 students
who had already lost one or more. In a similar study made in
the U.S., however, 6,000 out of a random group of 10,000 were
already missing one or more permanent teeth. And the
discrepancy shown by these two studies--the difference between
18 children and 6,000 who have lost irreplaceable teeth-is
attributable to the fact that New Zealand has a dental nurse
program for its schoolchildren. Of course, we have children's
dental programs too ... and the evidence damns them as
PLOWBOY: You touched upon the subject of dentures while we
were discussing the financial pressures that may cause
dentists to resist preventive programs. Yet you yourself do
not make dentures . . . can you tell me the reason that you
NARA: Because I'm not motivated to provide that service.
Dentures are the end of the road, and--in my opinion--a
dentist selling dentures is akin to a physician peddling
coffins. It seems to me that it's almost immoral for a healer
to spend too much time and effort cleaning up after a
preventable illness that has run its course. Naturally,
someone has to make these prosthetic devices, but I choose not
PLOWBOY: Would you say that American dentistry places a heavy
emphasis on dentures?
NARA: Very much so. Dentures are, for one thing, about the
most profitable service that a dentist can provide. You might
not know this, but dental laboratories often don't charge more
than $25 a plate to prepare a set of dentures for a dentist.
And the finished product-$50 worth of work for both upper and
lower plates--might cost the patient as much as seven or eight
hundred dollars! In fact, the lab costs on most dental
services are usually less than 20% of the fee charged to the
patient. The profits are tremendous! I feel that, because of
this huge profit potential, dentures should be taken out of
the hands of the dentists!
In fact, a dentist named Dr. W.W. Alport tried--back in 1877
--to have denture-making removed from the curriculum in dental
schools. Alport was ahead of his time, but I think this change
will have to come about. After all, if our profession is
supposed to be trying to save teeth, doesn't it constitute a
kind of conflict of interest to have this tremendous economic
return for selling "crutches"?
PLOWBOY: I think many people will see it that way. But your
Oramedics program, on the other hand, does concentrate upon
saving teeth. Could you tell me precisely how Oramedics works,
and what facts and figures you can cite to prove that it has
been successful in your nearly 20 years of practice?
NARA: First and foremost. Oramedics is a method of reaching
the patient . . . it's a kind of consumer-protection
dentistry. To put it another way. Oramedics is a combination
of scientific tests and a psychological delivery system. The
tests show the ecology of the mouth and can monitor the
improvement or degeneration of that ecology, while the
delivery system motivates the patient to continually improve
the health of his or her teeth and gums. Now, it might sound
egotistical to say that our message reaches people better than
the traditional "patient education programs" do, but
egotistical or not, that statement is true . . . and our
success is based upon the logic inherent in the program, not
on my charming personality!
When a patient comes into my Oramedics office, he or she is
given--as a part of the routine examination--a U.S. Navy
plaque index test. Now, most people will be curious about this
test, because it's unfamiliar to them. The staff then explains
what the test is: that it was developed and is in constant use
by the Navy, and that it is a means of measuring the amount of
plaque--a film made up of bacteria, food particles, and saliva
--which is adhering to the teeth. From that point. most folks
want to know how the test relates to them and how they can
improve their "score".
Similarly, when we ask the patient to spit into a little
bottle, he or she will usually ask why we're doing this. The
question is a logical one, and we answer that the saliva
sample will be tested to let us know the amount of bacteria
that the mouth contains. And, once the person understands the
reasons for the tests, he or she is told that--if we all work
together--we can eradicate most of the plaque and bacteria ...
and thus create an oral ecology that will no longer support
tooth decay or gum disease!
Of course, most folks become a bit suspicious upon hearing
this. But, we go on to explain that their suspicion is a
product of an "old" frame of reference ... and that the frame
of reference will have to be changed because Oramedics doesn't
accept tooth decay or bad gums.
The two tests, then, help the dentist understand whatever
problems are present. But, more important, they also help the
patient see the problems. And, once you let someone understand
his or her disease--and then convince that person that the
disease can be simply and inexpensively cured--you can expect
that he or she will cooperate with you to get the illness
Over a period of almost 20 years of using these methods, we
have never failed to eliminate dental disease from the mouth
of anyone who has cooperated with us. Of course, we have had
some folks say, "Dr. Nara. you're some kind of a nut." and
just get up and go out the door.
PLOWBOY: What percentage of your patients have refused to
follow the program and left your practice?
NARA: We've kept careful records on that. Over the years we've
lost between three and five percent of our patients because
they weren't willing to try--or stick with-- the program.
PLOWBOY: That leaves you with quite an impressive "success
NARA: And the people who do stay to listen get our message,
and once they get the message, it stands to reason that
they'll follow through. I mean, who really wants to have bad
teeth? Then, of course, once the results begin to show
up--which is usually in a matter of weeks--these patients feel
very proud of themselves, and rightly so ... because Oramedics
is self-help dentistry. The dentist's office becomes a place
where the patient can check the progress that he or she is
making toward having a completely disease-free mouth!
You could say that Oramedics is to dental health as Dr.
Kenneth H. Cooper's "aerobics" is to physical fitness. When
Cooper wanted to bring his running program to the people he
said, in effect, "Look, you clowns, your blood vessels are
going to hell, you need to get some oxygen pumping around in
there, and the only way you can do that is with exercise! "
And Cooper designed a simple test: All you had to do was to
see how far you could run, walk, and crawl in 12 minutes, then
check your distance against the figures in the Aerobics book
to find out what kind of shape you were in.
And, the book also described methods to improve your score. If
you follow Cooper's recommendations, you will almost certainly
improve your physical fitness. It's the same with Oramedics,
if you follow the instructions contained in our books and
material, you will almost certainly improve your oral health.
Now, before Aerobics was published people knew that exercise
was good . . . but how many folks did you see out jogging
then? Today, of course, there are millions of people who have
personal running programs. I jog myself, every morning, but I
didn't until somebody reached me! That's what Oramedics does:
It allows the dentist to reach his or her patients, and those
people do start cleaning their mouths . . . and clean teeth do
not decay and they do not foster gum disease. It's really that
PLOWBOY: Dr. Nara, many people are going to read this
interview, and I'd suspect that a number of them will want to
try Oramedics for themselves. Is there any way that these
people can locate an Oramedics practitioner in their areas?
NARA: Not at this time . . . at least not without great
difficulty. There are some 600 practicing Oramedics Fellows in
the world today, but--because of the tremendous confrontation
that's going on--those who live in the U.S. have to "keep a
low profile''. If someone were to call one of these
practitioners and ask. ''Doctor, do you do Oramedics? ". . .
the dentist might well be afraid to say yes, for fear of
reprisals from the dental associations.
PLOWBOY: Because your yellow pages ad simply said that you
practiced Oramedics ... and that was one of the factors that
led to your loss of license.
NARA: Exactly, for the simple reason that the dental
profession doesn't recognize Oramedics--or any form of
preventive dentistry--as a specialty.
PLOWBOY: Well, since Oramedics dentists are not readily
available, can you describe an "aerobics" kind of oral hygiene
program that could be followed at home
Over a period of almost 20 years of using
these methods, we have never failed to eliminate dental
disease from the mouth of anyone who has cooperated with us
... anyone who was willing to try.
... or even on a remote farmstead?
NARA: The first thing that I would recommend-- to any persons
interested in having a healthy mouth--is much like the first
step in the aerobics program: that is, they should take a test
to find out where they stand. This sort of evaluation is
necessary before a course of action can be planned.
Now, the best of these tests is the saliva examination that I
mentioned before, the "lactobacillus test". And that
examination is within reach of anyone who has access to the
postal system. People can mail in a saliva sample, have the
laboratory work performed, and receive a very specific report
... which will detail their oral health problems and tell them
what to do in order to cure those problems.
PLOWBOY: Tell me how and where these samples can be sent.
NARA: We are offering this service through Oramedics
International. If someone writes to us saying that he/she
would like to have an Oramedics evaluation, we will mail back
a sample jar and a series of forms to fill out. The forms
detail both dental and medical histories. Then, we'll report
our findings--based upon the lactobacillus count and the
patient's case history and recommend a home care, self-help
program which will enable the person to improve his or her
oral ecology while spending as little as five minutes a day on
dental hygiene. We also will ask that another saliva sample be
submitted after the patient has followed our recommendations
for a month. Most people will be well on the way to dental
health by then, and we can put them on a "maintenance program"
which--if followed--will almost insure a lifetime of freedom
from dental disease!
In addition to these services, anyone requesting an evaluation
will receive a 20-page booklet and a tape cassette explaining
the background of the Oramedics program. The total cost for
both tests, plus the evaluation, the recommendations, and so
forth is $24. (This test is no longer available. -Ed.)
PLOWBOY: That sounds quite reasonable.
NARA: This system is something that we've devised since my
license was suspended. When the dental associations stopped me
from drilling and filling, I decided to find another way to
help the public understand their mouths and keep their teeth
and gums healthy. I don't need a license to perform this
service ... anyone who understands oral physiology and
microbiology could do the same thing.
PLOWBOY: Are most of the materials that you would recommend
available without a prescription?
NARA: Yes ... in fact, we describe all of the items that are
needed, and the patient can then either procure them in a
drugstore or order the materials directly from Oramedics
PLOWBOY: It sounds as if we may well be entering an era of
do-it-yourself dentistry! How might this trend--assuming
that the Oramedics approach gains public acceptance--change
the American dental care system?
NARA: The major change I foresee is that organized dentistry
will be forced--by public opinion--to create a special field
for preventive dentists. There are over 15,000 physicians in
this country who are board-certified in preventive medicine .
. . but not one dentist who is so recognized.
Therefore, I feel that the dental associations will have to
develop some form of certification for those dentists who wish
to specialize in treating the cause of the disease rather than
simply repairing the damage that the illness does.
When this recognition becomes available, there will probably
be a split between those people who are interested in
prevention and those men and women who are more concerned with
prosthesis ... dentures, partials, that sort of thing. In
fact. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see a violent parting
of the ways occur, a split that would--in effect--create two
Another, although less significant, change will take place on
the legislative level: Dentists will be allowed to advertise
in all parts of the country. Some states, of course, already
allow medical advertising, but almost every dental ad that's
placed-- today-- is denture related . . .''Plates: In by 10,
Out by 5", that sort of thing. You'd have to look long and
hard to find a dentist who advertises him- or herself to be a
proponent of curing the disease!
PLOWBOY: Is this lack of "preventive" advertising due to the
fact that the profession doesn't certify prevention as a
NARA: That's one of the reasons. Primarily, however, our
shortage of dentists who practice prevention is due to the
fact that the "system" places an economic premium on the
repair and replacement of teeth. Even the insurance companies
that are now involved in dentistry are mainly offering
assistance in getting fillings, bridges, and repairs in
general. Most dental policies will cover little if any
preventive care . . . they are only an aid in cleaning up the
mess left by the disease.
PLOWBOY: Dr. Nara. the very fact that you've held up in the
face of 10 years of harassment proves that you believe in what
you're doing. Can you tell me why you've stuck with it . . .
what do you hope to accomplish in your career?
NARA: The principles that I'm operating on today are based on
the belief that one person with the truth can constitute a
majority. I believe the truth is that dental disease can be
eradicated. Of course, this will only happen if the "healers"
are able to reach the public. The message must be presented in
such a way that people find it valuable. Sadly enough, though,
we can't -- at this time -- count on the dental profession to
relay that message.
So, one of my immediate goals is to solicit the aid of allied
health professions. There are, for example, several
chiropractors who are already practicing Oramedics, and I plan
to take the whole concept of preventive dentistry out of the
hands of the dental profession ... if that's what's necessary
to get the job done.
PLOWBOY: Why did you choose to go to the chiropractors?
NARA: Well, as you may know, chiropractic medicine has come a
long way in the past few years. The "back crackers'' of old
are probably better versed in holistic and nutritional health
care than any other medical profession in America. They have
moved forward while all the rest have stood still.
And, along those same lines. I have written a book that should
be available in January 1979. It's called Money by the
Mouthful: Everything That You Need to Know, About the Health
of your Mouth and Body That No Doctor's Going to Tell You. I'm
so sure of the value of this book that it is completely
guaranteed . . . anyone who doesn't find Money By the Mouthful
worth the price can simply send in a post card, get the
purchase price back, and keep the book.
PLOWBOY: Will this volume take the Oramedics case directly to
NARA: Yes, and I expect many of them will be surprised at what
they read. Oramedics is, you see, nothing new. We aren't
claiming to have come up with a revolutionary system ... we're
not pushing any "miracle" drugs or anything like that. We are
simply offering a commonsense approach to dental health, and
the likes of that has never been available to the American
people before. Oramedics is nothing more--and nothing
less--than the simplest route to a disease-free oral ecology.
And I think that anyone who is interested in regaining control
over his or her life and body will surely want to know about