Tribute to Black History Month

 

What could be more relevant to Black History month than a famous Black Dentist? And what could be more relevant  to dentists than golf. Enter George Franklin Grant, the Harvard trained African American  dentist who invented the modern wooden golf tee.  Previously, there had been other objects and methods for teeing up a golf ball, but it took Grant to patent the forerunner of the modern golf tee.

Born in Oswego, New York in 1847, he entered Harvard’s School of Dental Medicine in 1868 and graduated in 1870. He was one of the first two graduates of Harvard University’s dental program .He later became Harvard’s first African American professor . He was a dedicated dentist, and patented a prosthetic device for cleft palate that was internationally recognized. He  was also  involved in dental organizations, as a founding member  Harvard’s Odontological Society, and as president of the Harvard Dental Alumni Association.

We don’t really know if Grant was an avid golfer.  Golf was not nearly as popular, or egalitarian back at the turn of the last century.  But then Grant was not one to be held back Grant’s patent,  issued on December 12, 1899 for an improved golf tee was a vast improvement over the mounds of sand previously used.  If you have ever hit a ball in sand , you know how messy that can be, not mention if the wind is kicking up.  So we offer our gratitude and humbly honor the man who helped modernize golf.  I just wonder  though, were golfers better at getting out of sand traps prior to his invention?

Holiday Donation

In lieu of Holiday cards, a donation in honor of our patients has been made to the Wounded Warrior Project. We hope for the best for our vets, and appreciate the sacrifices made. On behalf of our patients, we wish them Happy Holidays!

Art and the anti-Nazi Dentist

Sculpture by Otto Freundlich on the cover of "Entartete Kunst."

Sculpture by Otto Freundlich on the cover of “Entartete Kunst.”

Many dentists are creative and have an artistic inclination. Some become so successful, they leave the field of dentistry to pursue their artistic talents. Some give their lives for their craft.  One such tragic case is of Otto Freundlich.  Born in Germany in 1878, Freundlich studied dentistry only to  head off to pursue art in Paris in 1908. Later, one of his most famous works, a sculpture called “Der Neue Mensch” (“The New Man”) was used on the cover of the Nazi exhibition program called “Entartete Kunst”- “Degenerate Art.” The exhibition which ran from July to November in 1937 was intended to ridicule and denigrate modern artists, and particularly Jewish artists. The exhibition became heavily attended much to the dismay of the Nazis, who hoped the populace would embrace the Great German Art Exhibition instead. But the German people liked the modern art art more than the boring traditional German art. Hitler was outraged.  Freundlich was eventually arrested by the Nazi’s and murdered in Majdanek Concentration Camp in 1943.

Flossing Debate

Recent reports in the media have created a flurry of misunderstanding about the importance and benefits of flossing. Researchers claim there was no medical benefits from flossing. The research cites flawed earlier dental research studies. Dr. Fridus Van Der Weijden from the University of Amsterdam claims brushing and flossing is no more effective than just brushing alone. So why floss?

To start, brushing does not adequately reach the interproximal areas between the teeth. Plaque accumulation can lead to caries (the decay process which can cause a cavity), and the biofilm can lead to periodontal disease. The effect of bacteria and C-reactive proteins caused by bacteria is well documented. C-reactive proteins can be damaging to the body, and in particular, cardiac health.

So,. just as there is no proof that jumping out of a plane at high altitude with a parachute is safer than jumping without one, would you take the risk? Flossing may be a nuisance, but the ADA maintains it is a necessary one. Perhaps the water injection systems, such as Waterpik or Air Flosser can replace fiber threads in floss, but the idea is the same: remove the biofilm and decrease the bacterial count.

Forensic Dentistry and the Identification of Dr. Josef Mengele

Perhaps the most notorious figure of the Nazi concentration camps during WWII was Dr. Josef Mengele. Accused of experimenting on young twins (one would serve as the control for his experiments), he experimented, mutilated, murdered and dissected countless victims in Auschwitz, almost all without anesthesia. He was also responsible for the selection process when the Jewish refugees unloaded on the train platform at Auschwitz upon their arrival from all over Europe. His wave of the arm could mean life or death in the selection process. He was also a member of the team of doctors responsible for supervising the administration of Zyklon B, the gas that was used to kill people in the gas chambers at Auschwitz- Birkenau. He was sadistic and unempathetic. He became one of the most sought after war criminals after he was able to escape to South America when WWII ended. He changed his name and residences frequently, but was tracked by Nazi hunters.  He was known to be buried under the name “Wolfgang Gerhard” by his host family, the Bosserts in Sao Paulo, after a drowning incident. With the aid of dental records, Mengele’s death  was finally corroborated in 1985 by the efforts of Stephen Daschi, US Consul in Brazil.

This part of the story is little known. Daschi discovered Mengele, then using the pseudonym Pedro Hochbichler,  had visited Dr. Hercy Gonzaga Gama Angelo in the suburb of Sao Paulo, Brazil for a root canal in 1978. Dr. Angelo provided Daschi with the name of the referring dentist, Dr. Kasumasa Tutiya, who provided dental radiographs (X-rays).  The body of Mengele had been found previously though extensive tracking, and was then corroborated with the eye witnesses to the man and his teeth by the dentist!

Anne Frank and her dentist Dr. Pfeffer

When Anne Frank moved into hiding in Amsterdam (Prinsengracht 263), other Jews later joined them hiding. One such person was the dentist, Fritz Pfeffer, who was given the pseudonym Mr. Dussel (Dussel in German means “nitwit”) by Anne Frank in her diary. Dr. Pfeffer had fled Germany in 1938 and moved to Amsterdam where he set up his dental practice, but with the invasion of Holland and the persecution of the Jews, found himself in need of hiding. One of his Fritz’s brothers (Hans) escaped to New Jersey, and one to South America, but the rest of his family perished. Otto Frank and Miep Gies helped hide Fritz along with the increasing number of people in the crowded  secret annex. Dr. Pfeffer arrived with his dental equipment, including the pedal driven SS White drill, and became the roommate of Anne Frank. Dr. Pfeffer purportedly had to do a root canal treatment on Anne’s front tooth. Without anesthesia, Anne was not endeared to the man or his profession.

Unfortunately, someone betrayed the hiding place to the authorties, and the Dr. Pfeffer along with the Anne and the rest of the people hiding in the annex were arrested and sent to concentration camps. After a stint in Auschwitz, Anne and her sister Margo ended up in Bergen-Belsen, only to die shortly before the camp’s liberation. Dr. Fritz ultimately died in Neuengamme concentration camp from illness on December 20th, 1944.

Fritz Pfeffer_Dentist_AnneFrank House

Happy Holidays

A donation has been made in the name of my patients to the Wounded Warrior Project. With so many wounded veterans in desperate need of services, I choose to donate to this worthy cause, and hope our veterans  will benefit from a better Holiday Season.

Dr. Schonberg re-elected as President of the Essex County Dental Society

On Wednesday night, October 7,2015, Dr. Schonberg was one of several people honored by the New Jersey Dental Association. Installed as the re-elected president of the Essex County, he was presented with a plaque by the current NJDA president, Essex County’s own  Dr. Greg LaMorte. Also present was,  Giorgio DiVincenzo, President-elect of the NJDA and the Executive Director, Art Meisel, Esq.