"The Town Without A Toothache" Page: 1
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"If the people in Hereford never have toothaches,
why does the town have so many dentists?"
This, my friend, is a good question, and one
which deserves an answer. In the first place, modern
dental care no longer consists of merely yanking out
a molar when a citizen shows up with an aching tooth.
In addition, we are sure that many Hereford people
have always had toothaches, just as we are equally
sure that they will have an occasional toothache in the
generations to come. Like most other successful slogans,
the "Town Without A Toothache" phrase is not a literal
bonafide fact. The slogan was not perpetrated to deceive
anyone; instead, it was inherited like the nickname
of "Sis" or "Bud"-and it stuck.
However, it is worthwhile to know the origin of
the slogan, and to learn, "how and why" it came into
The whole thing started back in January, 1939,
when Dr. G. W. Heard, then a 74-year-old practicing
dentist in Hereford, Texas, remarked to Dr. Edward
Taylor, Dental Division director of Texas State Health
Department, concerning the extremely low dental
caries (decayed tooth) incidence in the community. Dr.
Taylor was interested to the point that the state conducted
a survey, following which he stated:
"I examined 56 people, chosen at random from
homes in the area. Forty-three were native born, continuous-resident
people. Not one single carious tooth
or filling was found in the dentition of the 43 native
people, ranging in age from two years to past middle
age. The homes were selected by a teacher and a NYA
worker who knew nothing of the dental conditions in
"Actually, the people in Hereford don't realize
what immunity they enjoy."
Dr. Taylor and the State Department made further
tests, and found the incidence of caries in the Deaf
Smith County area to be approximately one-half as
high as the lowest reported in the United States -
and much lower still than the average.
Interest in the findings took on an added meaning
when it was discovered that new-comers to the community
also showed improvement. Again, we quote
Dr. Taylor and some of the results of his surveys:
"We found that people moving to the area from
other states, and with the usual number of cavities and
fillings, after living in Hereford a few months ceased
to develop further caries.
"Even a few cavities in teeth brought there as
much as five years previously with active caries, had
ceased to be reactive - and the cavities had acquired
hard, glazed floors and surfaces."
This story was carried to national dental association
gatherings and, shortly thereafter, the "Town
Without a Toothache" became an international byword.
Letters poured in from England, France and
South America; from far-away India, Egypt and even
In the United States, physicians and research
scientists started talking about the unusual bone structure
of cattle in the area, and this led to establishment
of the fact that human bones also healed more rapidly
and grew stronger than in many other places. Today,
many of these people close to research facts declare
that even greater possibilities are offered through the
bone grown factor, than those offered through dental
Conclusions, as a result of experimentation in the
area, have been numerous. One early school of
thought attributes the low dental caries condition to
consumption of home-grown foods; another holds out
for Hereford water. Today, the Hereford story provides
basis for a national scale argument when cities
start talking about adding fluorine to their public water
To help find these answers Hereford now boasts
a complete, thoroughly modern research laboratory,
fully staffed, to study crops, soil, milk, meat, water
and other products. Khiva Temple of Amarillo has
placed before the National Council a petition seeking
consideration for location of a crippled children's hospital
in the Hereford area.
In addition, practically every citizen of the community
seems to have reached his own individual conclusions.
Some of them will tell you the whole thing
is "a lot of tripe", while others will go to great lengths
to support the State Health Department findings. As
they put it, "I am one of those who had cavities when
I moved here, and I haven't been to a dentist in 10
Misleading or not, everyone is bound to admit
that the "Town Without A Toothache" slogan did put
Hereford, Texas, on the map.
One large manufacturer of tooth paste, who formerly
used a picture highly similiar to that of the
Hereford railway station in advertising, now bases its
publicity on the expression: "Look, Moml No cavities!"
If this phrasing more aptly tells the Hereford story,
then we have all learned a valuable lesson in-murrmannature
and public relations.
It has been 20 years since the first "Town Without
A Toothache" story appeared in the press. The
slogan was born in the dreams of a feature writer, and
was presented in leading magazines, along with pertinent
facts of the period. Meanwhile, there seems definite
proof that Hereford and Deaf Smith County
actually do have something exceptional to offer in the
field of health. These advantages, in our opinion, include
bone development as well as dental health.
"Anyway you look at it you win," said a recent
new-comer. "It costs nothing, requires no effort, and
other folks do the research. All you've got to do is sit
down and wait."
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"The Town Without A Toothache", text, 1959; (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth46551/m1/1/: accessed December 9, 2021), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Deaf Smith County Library.