The spark for the idea of the new series here at the Cafe – “Mid-Twentieth-Century America” – was a recent conversation over coffee with my former student Laura Sacher, a mother of four young children. We were discussing dental care for kids, and I mentioned my recollections from 1960s-era t.v. commercials of child actors shown bragging, after visits to the dentist, of having only one or no cavities. It was normal, apparently back then, to have the dentist discover several cavities in each patient on each visit.
Here’s a commercial, for Crest toothpaste, from the 1950s. Note the assumption that tooth decay is a rather typical scourge.