September 14, 2015

British Dental Journal to Publish Letter by Author, Dr. Garth Pettit

The Editor in Chief of the British Dental Journal, (BDJ) has approved for publication at a later date, in Letters to The Editor, an article written by Author, Dr. Garth Pettit.

Because the British Dental Journal printed edition is also supplemented with an online edition the author’s article will also reach out to an additionally much wider audience. Any Comments made to the online edition will be added to the end of this article as and when they may occur.

Dr Pettit’s article will be added here following publication in the British Dental Journal.


Br Dent J. 2015 Oct 9;219(7):304. doi: 10.1038/sj.bdj.2015.763.

The word from down under: Whole mouth health.

Pettit G.



[PubMed – in process]
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  • Whole Mouth Health –  ‘Picture Perfect’ Prevention
  • Sir, dental caries (along with poor appreciation of oral health issues) in children as reflected by DMFT scoring is, in 2015, still a pressing public health matter in Great Britain (1), as well as here in Australia and generally around the Globe. Apart from financial burden on individuals and Governments the individual’s longer term general health is being compromised.
  • For my own part, I was an NHS dentist from 1958 until 1980 and was always very busy with DMFT’s. In 1980 I returned to Australia with my wife and three children and recommenced practise till retirement in 1991.
  • Retirement proved to be relatively short lived. In July 1996 our granddaughter was diagnosed with early decay in an upper anterior tooth. Angrily I committed myself to this mission: Prevent Oral Diseases in Children.
  • In January 1997 I was appointed as District Dental Officer, East Arnhem Land, in the remote tropical Northern Territory of Australia. Marvellous I thought,  I would be working closely with schools, parents, teachers and children – the perfect environment for researching my mission: Prevent Oral Diseases in Children.
  • In early 2001, during recording annual DMFT in a Northern Territory district school, for the third consective year I observed the 6-7 year-old classroom’s mouths were unlike all the other classes. They were caries free!  The conversation I then had with their two teachers explained why. I was told that these pupils had been served  breakfast before the first lesson. Then after squeezing tooth paste onto their tooth brushes they were told to “go outside to the water troughs, brush your teeth and rinse…and rinse and rinse your brush under the tap”.  The teachers implied by the first ‘rinse’ to rinse your mouth, but the children misinterpreted that statement and  literally rinsed…and rinsed and rinsed the brush under the tap! Of course, what they had unknowingly left in their mouths were the active ingredients in the toothpaste! Serendipity had stepped-in to maintain their dental health!
  • Next, subjecting the instruction “Brush Your Teeth” to a SWOT Analysis, I was horrified to discover it had been created by the Chinese Emperor who had patented the first bristle made tooth brush in 1498. I then searched for an oral hygiene instruction pertinent to the 21st Century. In 1992 I created the OHI ‘Treat Your Mouth’. This is based on the fundamental observation that toothpaste, containing beneficial fluoride and antiseptic ingredients, should be literally left over the whole mouth and not rinsed away. I also renamed tooth brush, ‘mouth brush’ and tooth paste, ‘mouth paste’.
  • The concept evolved over time and in 2007 I renamed the approach: ‘Treat Your Whole Mouth’. Since then, finding that children respond very keenly to the notion of ‘painting’, it has become ‘Paint Your Mouth”. My own experience over many years shows that this really does dramatically reduce DMFT.
  • Inspired by many years of observation and results with this concept I have produced a series of eBooks for not only children but also adults. These are designed to be educating, entertaining and interactive (2). Special needs and vulnerable children (3) would also greatly benefit from this simple yet cost-effective approach.
  • Understandably to date, it is considered that caries is preventable in theory, but in practice this is not the case (1). My comment: I have a goal to make dental caries in practical terms, preventable. I aim to make it literally: ‘child’s play’ for everyone!
  • Garth Pettit, Adelaide
  • (1)
  • (2)
  • (3)



In July 1996 the Australian author, Dr. Garth Pettit, received a phone call from his daughter who informed him that his 3 year old granddaughter had been diagnosed with mild tooth decay in an upper front baby tooth. They were living many miles apart, two full day trips by car. The doctor was angry with himself and with the lack of any decent oral health education available for children or parents.

Dr. Pettit then decided he would end his five years of retirement from private dental practices. He created a mission: Prevent Oral Diseases in Children. Then he set about seeking employment in the Government sector where he would be involved with children, their parents and their schools. In January 1997 he took up duties as District Dental Officer, East Arnhem Land, Northern Territory of Australia and was based in Nhulunbuy, a very beautiful coastal and bauxite mining town. The author thought it to be ideal for his research.

The Nhulunbuy Dental Clinic staff, which included three dentists, serviced several remote, Aboriginal Communities which were accessible only by aircraft. A fourth dentist responsible to him was based on Groote Eylandt. This dentist’s position was half Government and half private practice.

To concentrate more on his research the author, in early 1999, relocated to this position. It was here, in 1999, where he performed a Strength-Weakness-Opportunity-Threat analysis on the instruction Brush Your Teeth, found it to be out-of-date (1497!) and created a better oral hygine instruction Treat Your Mouth. Later changed that to Treat Your While Mouth and finally changed to Paint Your Mouth….because kids just loved the idea to paint your mouth.

The Author’s most recent five star reviewed titles added to his Amazon account are:
Mothers Teach Foetus All About A Smile. Teaching Oral Disease Prevention
GarGar The Dentist Toddlers Activity Books. Book a
GarGar The Dentist Toddlers Activity Books. Book b
Teaching Oral Disease Prevention. 1 of 12 etc. to 12 of 12
Teaching Oral Disease Prevention. 1 thru 12. TThis combines all previous 12 titles into one convenient title.

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