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 teeth die").
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 professional background?
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 perpetuates itself.
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 conveyed.
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
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"
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 and Regulations!
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
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 charges.
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 terrible mess.
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
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
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 15 months.
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 examiner-- again!
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
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 organized dentistry.
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
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
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 disease process.
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 it starts.
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 worthless.
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
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 cleared up.
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
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
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 simple.
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
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
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 specific professions.
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 the people?
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 it.