« PreviousContinue »
HINTS AND QUERIES.
I Take the liberty of submitting the following personal experience in the use of the muriate of cocaine, hypodermieally applied, upon the dental branch of the third division of the fifth cranial nerve. The injection was attempted over the nerve where it enters the dental foramen, on the internal surface of the ramus of the inferior maxilla, on the left side. The introduction of the solution (a four per cent, preparation of Foucar's) was made by Dr. Frank Hartley, of Boosevelt Hospital, this city, and was accomplished by his first feeling with the finger for the prominent spine that guards the opening of the dental foramen, and inserting the needle point at the place thus indicated. Twelve minims was first injected, a drop of the solution being impelled ahead of the needle as it was pushed through the mucous membrane, thus rendering its introduction painless.
The results that ensued, although not exactly of the character sought, were yet marked and of interest. Cerebral effects were soon manifest in considerable excitation of the mind, and a pleasurable degree of warmth was experienced. Upon lancing the gums on the left side, in three or four minutes it was noticed that sensibility of the membrane was almost entirely absent on the lingual aspect, and more slightly so on the buccal; the lower lip was also somewhat benumbed. Simultaneously with these phenomena the right side of my tongue became stiff and numb; swallowing was accomplished with effort, and the sense of taste on the left side almost completely lost, proving that our injection had taken effect on the lingual more than on the dental branch.
At the end of ten minutes twelve minims more was introduced at the same place, with the result only of accentuating the afore-mentioned action of the drug. Delay in the prompt sequence of ideas now became a pronounced symptom, and although the articulate character of speech was in no sense affected, I was frequently obliged to stop a moment or so and think for the next word in delivering myself of the simplest thoughts. At this juncture Dr. J. S. Converse, of "West Thirty-seventh street, attempted the removal of an offending wisdom tooth in the left side below, but as soon as he commenced traction I called to him to desist, as it pained.
Our experiment was not a success, therefore, as regards the anesthetizing of the inferior dental nerve in this instance, but quite so as respects the lingual branch. By a curved hypodermic needle which I have made, I trust, however, to achieve better results, by pulling the point into'the dental foramen, thereby delivering the contents of my syringe upon the dental nerve alone, avoiding the lingual and mylohyoid branches, which are given off just behind the dental foramen. I have deemed this as yet incomplete effort to anesthetize the inferior dental nerve , sufficiently important to record, in hopes that others may be incited, in common with myself, to push this matter to further issues.
Later.—As an addendum, I will furthermore say that Dr. Hartley, to whom I gave one of the curved hypodermic needles which I made, reports complete success in its use at Boosevelt, having succeeded in extracting teeth and performing other usually painful operations with complete absence of pain.—J. H. MartinDale, D.D.S., New York City.
Vol. XXVII. PHILADELPHIA, MAECH, 1885. No. 3.
MOLECULAR STRUCTURE AND FOROE WITH REFERENCE TO
BY J. L. WILLIAMS, D.D.S., NEW HAVEN, CONN.
(Rend before the Eirst District Dental Society, State of New York, January 6,
Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Society: I am sure you will rightly apprehend me when I say that the daily routine of details which goes to make up the practice of our specialty is not calculated to foster in us that spirit of broad and liberal thinking which is the essence of true scientific culture, and that it is therefore good for us to occasionally go back to a consideration of those first principles which are the foundations of all specialties. And more than this, if our minds are at times drawn away from the matters about which our thoughts concentrate so persistently that different forms of i^old and the methods of condensing it in the cavities of carious teeth, and the best methods of filling the canals of pulpless teeth and treating pyorrhea alveolaris, become inwoven into our very spiritual faculties (pardon the unscientific allusion), we shall go back to our work with pleasant thoughts that after all the universe contains something more than artificial teeth and decayed molars.
I sometimes think it would be good for our sober brethren, the ministers, as well as their hearers, if they would occasionally announce that they would preach a sermon on the recent decline in stocks, or the Keely motor, or the relation of the moon to tidal movements, or some other subject, which might act as a sort of mental alterative. Emerson uttered the sentiments of more than one thinking man when he replied, on being asked why he did not go to church, "Why should I? Do I not know when the preacher announces his text just what he is going to say?" But I selected the text which I have announced, not so much in the belief that I Vol. Xxyii.—9.
should be able to say anything new as in the hope that I might present certain truths already known in a new light. The apprehension of truth in the mind is so like a glimpse through a kaleidoscope —a little movement causing the brilliant, crystal-like masses to fall into new and perhaps more admirable positions—that a slight rearrangement of well-known facts into a new synthetic relation often gives us a more satisfactory knowledge of the subject under investigation.
The problem which presents itself to one undertaking in the brief period of time allowed me the presentation of a theme which involves directly or indirectly all that is known of the material manifestation of that which we call life, arises from the difficulty of isolating a few strong, salient truths, and so arranging and elucidating those truths as to make them provocative of newer and better reasoning upon the subject.
The term nutrition in its broadest interpretation involves the study of the changes through which the elementary forms of matter pass to those complex relations which they sustain in the higher forms of organic existence. From a chemical stand-point, these changes are the immediate results of the action or interaction of molecular force,—the force in obedience to which the atoms of the elementary forms of matter unite to form molecules of chemical combinations or substances. As we have always to keep in mind the presence and operation of this force in considering the phenomena of nutrition, it may be well to study a little in detail some of its simpler manifestations. You are all familiar with the well-known facts of that special exhibition of electric force known as magnetism. You know that if two bar magnets are suspended by strings, in close proximity, they exhibit a mutual attraction for each other. If the end of one of the magnets is reversed, the force manifests itself as repulsion instead of attraction. So we say that one half of the magnet repels and the other half attracts. If we divide the magnet exactly in the middle, we find that each half now possesses the same characteristic qualities which the original magnet did before dividing it. And this fact remains true* of all the pieces into which it is possible for us to divide the magnet. When the experimental evidence fails us, we may, in imagination, pass beyond its boundary, and discern this same force of polarity in every molecule of iron of which the magnet is composed. Now, structural arrangement, whether in the diamond, in the petals of the rose, or in the tissues of the human organism, is possible because there is manifested in every atom of matter a force akin to the polar force of the magnet. iSo powerful is this force that we know it is hardly possible for most forms of matter to remain in an elementary condition for any length
of time. We have seen that our magnet exhibits two poles, but we find that the atoms of the different elements are not all like our magnet or like each other in this respect. The atom of hydrogen, for instance, has but one pole or a combining power of one. Oxygen has two. An atom of oxygen will therefore attract and hold two atoms of hydrogen, and so in speaking of water in the language of chemistry we say H2 O.
Carbon has a quantivalence, or quantivalens (from quantitas, quantity, and valens, being worth), meaning its combining power or worth, of four. Sulphur combines with two, three, four, and six atoms of other elements, and many others possess this power of combining in different proportions. These are but simple, well-known facts of chemistry. I mention them to remind you that this molecular force, or combining power of atoms, in its various manifestations, is the Alpha and Omega of all inorganic and organic growth, and therefore of nutrition. The most comprehensive definition of nutrition ever given, and one which may, be called an ultimate definition, is the satisfying of bonds of affinity. These affinities are awakened or brought into an active condition by phenomena usually spoken of as the constant conversion of the force of an organism into labor, which force is said to be liberated by the decomposition or oxidation of certain nutritive elements. Action or motion in some form seems to be the end sought in every form of existence. To maintain the organism by supplying substances in such forms as may be appropriated in place of those whose values have been converted into motion or labor, or cancelled, or for the purpose of storing up chemical compounds in such forms as may be readily appropriated when needed, either for the support of the organism in which is effected their formation or for others remote in space and character, is the function of nutrition. Whether a given substance may become the food of an organism or not depends, first, upon the demands of the organism for something which the substance in question contains, and, second, the power of the organism to overcome the bonds of affinity in which the elements or molecules of the substance is held, both for the purpose of utilizing what is needed for actual work in the organism and the disposal of the residue which is not needed.
It is thus seen that the wider the range of activities of an organism, the more complex must be the arrangement of its parts, both for the actual performance of the labor and the maintenance of the parts in the proper condition for labor. We shall probably obtain a clearer knowledge of the operation of molecular force as exhibited in nutrition if our studies begin with the simpler combinations. From a chemical stand-point, there is no arbitrary line separating the so-called inorganic from the organic. On its material side life is one, not only from monad to man, but from the simplest form of crystal to man. We begin the study of mathematics by counting our fingers. We may at length determine the parallax of distant stars, or measure the height of the mountains of the moon, but the same simple, fundamental principles of mathematics run through all the most intricate problems. So, all the phenomena of the nutrition of the human body may be reduced to simple expressions of chemical equations.
Let us first inquire, then, how a crystal, the simplest visible structural form in which the atoms of elements unite, is built up. We have seen that the atoms of all elementary substances are polar, each having a definite number of points or poles of attraction. We speak of the union of the atoms of elementary substances, but the truth probably is, that even in elementary substances atoms are united in the form of molecules soon after liberation. It is known that an elementary substance just liberated from union unites with much greater intensity than it does after remaining for a time in an isolated state, the reason probably being that the affinity of its atoms is to some extent satisfied by their uniting with one another.
Probably most of you have, as boys, breathed upon a pane of glass during a cold winter's day, until you had melted the ice covering it, and then watched the fern-like crystal formations shoot out from the edges of your miniature pond and meet in the center. It is a beautiful exhibition, and one which may always be watched with feelings of wonder, admiration, and, I may say, awe; for are we not very near to the energies which have brought the present universe of worlds out of chaos?
Water crystallizes in many beautiful forms, but these forms are all variations of one typical form, which is six-sided or six-rayed; so the nucleal particle upon which they are built must consist of three or six molecules combined. And we know that the molecule of water consists of three atoms, or probably molecules,—two of hydrogen and one of oxygen. Thus we see that the points of polarity of a molecule determine the form in which an aggregation of the molecules will appear as a crystalline mass, if no disturbing or opposing force is permitted to act upon them. By virtue of their poles of attraction and repulsion, the atoms are drawn together, and into definite shapes, and silently and symmetrically the most exquisite structures are built up.
If we send a mild current of electricity through a solution of acetate of lead, the lead is liberated from its union with acetic acid, and the metallic atoms unite with each other and grow into fernlike forms of as marvelous beauty as any of the products of the