Dr. Heard, a dentist in Hereford, Texas, back in the 1940s, is possibly responsible for the beginning of the myth that fluoride prevents tooth decay. Later he rejected that notion, arguing that it was not just the fluoride but all the other nutrients and minerals in the diet in Deaf Smith County, Texas. Dr. Hurd did not say so, but other sources say that the calcium levels in Hereford water were around 328 ppm, and that it was the calcium and not the calcium fluoride which caused the beautiful milky white teeth and the low rate of cavities.
On January 29, 1942, the popularly syndicated newspaper feature “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not” called Hereford, Texas “The Town Without a Toothache.” Dr. George W. Heard practiced dentistry in Hereford, and in 1939, Dr. Edward Taylor of the Texas Department of Health conducted a two-year study that showed that Hereford had the lowest rate of tooth decay of any city in the United States. The results were presented to the American Dental Association. Collier’s magazine also called Hereford “The Town Without a Toothache” in 1942.
Hereford Historical Marker
Title: Town Without a Toothache
Year Marker Erected: 1967
Marker Location: Located at little park on US 385 at 4th and Bennett Streets.
Marker Text: Hereford’s “miracle water” was brought to national fame in 1941 when Dr. Edward Taylor, State Dental Officer, told the American Dental Association that tooth decay was almost unknown here. This ideal situation had been discovered by a local dentist, Dr. George Heard, originally from Alabama. In a cross-section survey, dentists found that few local people had dental cavities. Hereford’s mineral-rich water and soil are thought to prevent tooth decay. Demand arose for Hereford water to be shipped all over the U.S. and to foreign nations.
Handbook of Texas Online
HEREFORD, TEXAS. Hereford, the county seat and principal town of Deaf Smith County, is on U.S. Highway 60 near the southeast corner of the county. When the Pecos and Northern Texas Railway was completed in 1899 from Amarillo to Farwell, it occasioned the growth and development of a new town, initially called Blue Water for the waters of Tierra Blanca Creek, one mile to the south. When federal postal authorities found that there was already a town in Texas with the name Blue Water, the residents renamed the settlement Hereford, after the cattle brought to the area by ranchers L. R. Bradley and G. R. (Rat) Jowell. By September 1898 W. H. Clair, Troy Womble, and C. G. Witherspoon (later a holder of various city and county offices) had established the new town’s first homes and businesses. Because of the approaching railroad, in November residents of Deaf Smith County chose Hereford to replace La Plata as the county seat. The original wooden frame courthouse, transported by wagon to the new site, was used until the completion of a marble-faced structure in 1910.
The city’s reputation as the “town without a toothache” evidently began in 1948, when Dr. F. M. Butler attributed local dental health to natural fluoride in the area’s water. Butler’s discoveries were later verified by the Texas Department of Health.qv Over the years Hereford water came to be in worldwide demand, as did its grain products, which are widely sold in for health-food stores.
Amarillo Globe News
Web posted Friday, May 19, 2000
Dr. G. W. Heard
By Jessica Raynor, Globe-News regional writer
Dr. George W. Heard was responsible for Hereford’s national fame as “the town without a toothache.” He shared findings that food had much to do with maintaining good teeth and was the only Hereford dentist involved in the discovery of fluoride in water.
Heard was born in 1867 in Alabama, seventh of 13 children. He left home at 19. He eventually made his way to Nashville, where he went to dentistry school, graduating fifth in his class.
He came to Hereford with his wife, Mattie, and opened a dental practice in either 1913 or 1916 – historical accounts differ.
Their only child, George, was born in 1911. Mattie died in 1947.
By 1910, he had begun sharing his “unorthodox” ideas that diet was connected to dental health. One doctor said, “If all our patients adhered to Dr. Heard’s ideas, we would be minus patients.”
He said “food in the rough” and raw milk helped people in Deaf Smith County keep good teeth. He would reiterate that finding when he attended sessions of the Panhandle District Convention of the Texas Dental Association at Amarillo.
Dr. Edward Taylor, director of dental health for the Texas Department of Health, came to Hereford in 1939 to check out Heard’s findings. A two-year study conducted by Taylor showed Hereford to have the lowest tooth decay rate among schoolchildren of any city in the United States.
Surveys also showed that the fluoride level in Deaf Smith drinking water was about one part per million, which became standard in artificial fluoridation. The fluoride apparently was responsible for quicker healing of broken bones.
Taylor told the research section of the American Dental Association that this might prove to be “one of the most important discoveries in dental history.” Collier’s magazine in 1942 printed an article about it, titled “The Town Without a Toothache,” a slogan that stuck in Hereford.
Heard’s autobiography, “Man Vs. Toothache,” was published in 1953. He died in 1965.
George Heard Correspondence
George W. Heard, D.D.S.
March 15, 1954
Mr. Roby C. Day
112 Lewis St.
San Diego, Calif.
Dear Mr. Day:
Hereford, Texas has been called the town without a toothache. This is not true. But the phrase has been used effecively by the people interested in marketing “sodium fluoride” all over the country.
I have practiced dentistry here for years. The native population of Hereford and Deaf Smith County have remarkably good teeth. The incidence of caries or tooth decay was very low. I finally succeeded in getting some members of the dental profession to come to Hereford to find the cause of the exellent dental health of our people.
After considerable research, it was suggested that the relatively high content of natural fluorine in our water supply was responsible. I accepted this conclusion for a time. The people who had great quantities of sodium fluoride and sodium silico fluoride as by-products of the aluminum and fertilizer industries decided that when these by-products were added to city water supplies, they would produce the same type of dental health which existed here with the natural fluorine. They widely publicized “the town without a toothache.” They are, I believe, still doing it.
As the years went by I continued to study the local situation. I observed that, as the town grew and more people began to live on processed foods, such as canned goods, white fluor products, soft drinks, etc., tooth decay increased. This increase of decay occurred, even though they were drinking the same fluorinated water we had always been drinking. I am now fully convinced that good natural food is the preventive of dental caries as well as other diseases.
I believe that fluorine does in a mild way retard caries, but I also believe that the damage it does if far greater than any good it may appear to accomplish. It even makes the teeth so brittle and crumbly they can be treated only with difficulty, if at all.
The dental investigators who came to our County some fifteen years ago did, in my opinion, make a serious misstake when they gave to fluorine the credit for our good teeth, and overlooked the quality of food grown in our rich, well mineralized soil. Every person I found who had no dental caries, consumed much milk.
Why use a poison, when correct food will maintain our bodies free from diseaases and tooth decay. It is hellish and un-American to put poison in city water supplies and force citizens to drink it.
I sincerely hope that at least some of your dentists are co-operating with you in getting the real truth about tooth decay over to your citizens.
If I can further assist you, please call on me.
George W. Heard
Note: This is an electronic reproduction of a photocopy of the Heard letter which was sent to me by Evangeline Winkler.
29 January 1942, Charleston (WV) Gazette, pg. 11:
BELIEVE IT OR NOT…BY RIPLEY
THE TOWN WITHOUT A TOOTHACHE!
HEREFORD, Deaf Smith County, Texas.
DUE TO CERTAIN ELEMENTS OF CLIMATE, WATER AND FOOD PRODUCTS IN THIS AREA, THE INHABITANTS ARE IMMUNE TO TOOTH DECAY.
30 January 1942, Lima (OH) News, pg. 8:
BELIEVE IT OR NOT…BY RIPLEY
EXPLANATION OF YESTERDAY’S CARTOON
THE TOWN WITHOUT A TOOTHACHE
At the 83rd annual convention of the American Dental-assn evidence was presented that Hereford, in Deaf Smith-co, Texas, has certain elements of climate, water, milk and food products of the soil that gives its inhabitants immunity from cavities and grant newcomers improved dental health.
This most wonderful discovery is expected to lead to duplication of the Hereford elements in soil and water elsewhere. The boon to humanity would be incalculable.