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Todd, Russell I. : Home

Written by Heather Dent

Russell I. Todd

Early Life and Education

Russell I. Todd was born to Luther and Arabella Barnett Todd in Crooksville, Kentucky. He attended Berea College and graduated from the School of Dentistry at the University of Louisville in 1924.

On September 17, 1930 he married Maurine Bronson. She became the first President of the Kentucky State Dental Auxiliary, and at many community affairs she and her husband were known to be a gracious hostess and host. They had two daughters, Camille Maye and Beverly Arabella (Short Bio).

Early Career and Research

Dr. Todd was secretary-treasurer of the Kentucky State Board of Dental Examiners for seven years and served as its president in 1946. This organization determined the professional qualifications of members and issued licenses for the practice of dentistry. On an annual basis he made it his custom to discuss with the candidates for licensure their duties and responsibilities as citizens when they entered the dental practice. A former colleague of his Roscoe M. Justice recalled two statements of his on such occasions, “Your first duty is to become an active, participating, Christian citizen (Justice). Your second duty is to always be a good dentist by continuing your studies,” and “If your primary thought is folding money for yourself when you make a diagnosis, the diagnosis will be wrong.”

Dr. Todd was head of the Kentucky State Dental Association in 1945, and president of the Blue Grass Dental Society in 1936. He also held a fellowship in the Academy International of Dentistry, was a member of the professional advisory committee for vocational rehabilitation in Kentucky, and was a colonel on the staff of the governor of Kentucky. Dr. Todd was also the author of two Kentucky Dental Laws – the Hygienist Act and the Lyons Dental Act, and mainly responsible for their passage by the General Assembly. In 1953, Dr. Todd became president the American Association of Dental Examiners (Short Bio).

Dr. Todd devoted an extensive amount of research to the field of dentistry and wrote many articles for scholarly journals. A few such articles included subjects concerning dental health, operative dentistry, prosthetic dentures, oral infections and diseases of the eye, the use of fluorine in drinking water and the effects of X-ray radiation in the dental office. His research on the long neglected subject of X-ray radiation was particularly informative. Through his intensive research, articles, and lectures on the hazards of X-ray radiation he alerted the public and health professions of the possible harmful biological effects it has. His interest in this particular subject was sparked in a survey of X-ray dosimetry conducted by him and the Physics Department of Berea College (Use of roentgen...).

Not only was Dr. Todd actively involved in the field of dentistry, he also participated in civic, educational and church affairs. He was director of the First Federal Savings Association and of the Madison-Southern National Bank and Trust Company. He served as a member on the Richmond Board of Education and served as president of the local Rotary Club. He was also an Elder in the First Christian Church, and a Mason belonging to the Omioroh Kappa Epsilon.

During his spare hours Dr. Todd enjoyed entertaining hobbies such as photography, history, golf, and sculpturing. His interest in history and love for photography resulted in his accomplishment in producing one of the most complete color slide collections of Madison County historical shrines in existence.


Dr. Todd’s remarkable leadership and noteworthy contributions toward advancing the standards of dental education has been well recognized on both a state and national level. He has been selected as the president of several major dental organizations in Kentucky, and was president of one of the top major dental organizations in the United States. His success in his profession, and outstanding service to society earned him a space in “Who’s Who in the South”, and moved Berea College to award him with the honorary degree of doctor of science in 1972.

Further Reading

Dental Health
Written by Dr. Russell I. Todd

Someone has said, “The health of the people is the supreme law.” Within this idea is the foundation of all material, intellectual, and spiritual success; for without health no people will ever attain greatness and happiness.

Health is not something to be legislated. It cannot be given by the healing art professions alone. It must be accomplished mainly through prevention, and prevention can come only through education. Next to the common cold, the most common disease known to mankind is dental caries (tooth decay). If it were only inconvenience, and personal disfiguration that result from dental caries, the outcome would not be so serious. But when we realize that more than three-fourths, of the focal infections are in the mouth; that these cause serious heart lesions, arthritis, neuritis, digestive disturbances, and other conditions contribute to a shorter, less happy and less useful
life, the question begins to assume an entirely different appearance.

Educators have learned that it is impossible to spread the gospel of proper living through lectures or other means of disseminating information to our adult population. It must be taught to the children and made a part of their daily life habits. Former Superintendent Sutton of Atlanta has said, “I am of the opinion that if we take care of the teeth of boys and girls from the time they enter the first grade until they are eighteen years of age and instill good dental habits; it will add five years to the life of every one of them.”

Good dental habits are, correct tooth brush methods and proper diets. The adage that a clean tooth never decays may not be 100% true, but it is most important for dental health. Less than 50% of the American people use a tooth brush, and many who use it do so incorrectly. Proper tooth brush drills held daily in our public schools would be a most important and valuable health measure.

Proper dietary methods are most important for developing and maintaining good teeth. Existing scientific knowledge indicates that dental caries can be largely arrested by the restriction of carbohydrates, especially free sugar, in the diet. Even among the Eskimos who have near perfect teeth, the experimental introduction of candy to the children resulted in a very rapid dental caries.

It is most unfortunate that the selling and consuming of candies and soft drinks is so popular at our school athletic events and even in some lunch rooms. Experiments show that some soft drinks contain over four teaspoons of sugar, and of course our candy bars are nearly all sugar. This practice should be discourages, and such health producing foods as fruits, apples, oranges etc., be sold in their stead. This would be a valuable health measure.

In most cases of mental backwardness of our school children, there is a physical defect of the teeth, eyes or ears, and bad teeth are found far more often than poor eyesight or poor hearing. Since such preventive measures as proper foods and correct tooth brush methods can prevent, to a large degree dental caries, it behooves us to give more attention to prevention.

Oral Infections may be Cause in Disease of the Eye
Dr. Russell I. Todd

A definite relationship between infections of the oral cavity and ocular diseases is not a new thought. In fact, articles on this subject are found in medical literature early in the 19th century. Yet not until early in the present century was much significance attached to this relationship. This followed the experiments of Rosenow, which were popularized by Billings and others to make the theory of focal infection acceptable. All forms of therapy, like certain techniques and use of materials, go through cycles. At first they are used indiscriminately by many and they seem to be a panacea for all that has been lacking before. Then reports of failures begin to pour in and it goes into discard, or a period of nihilism. Later some definite and positive values are realized and it is again used under definite and perhaps limited indications.

This is true of the theory of focal infection. My own profession (dentistry) has a history of many such cycles. The devitalized tooth, impression technics, and the plastics are examples. Ammoniated dentifrices and sodium flouride therapy for the prevention of tooth decay are now in the midst of this cycle.

Medical and dental literature and reports from many hospitals are filled with case histories showing the elimination of ocular diseases and correction or improvement of vision following the removal of infection from the oral cavity.

They are so convincing that we must not disregard the theory of focal infection. But we must also use the best and most thorough diagnostic methods at our command, before any corrective procedures are employed. This to include the routine use of x-rays as an aid in the thorough examination of all involved areas, case histories, and perhaps biopsies. Many teeth as well as tonsils have been lost without the expected results where hasty and incomplete examinations have been made.

Many outstanding ophthalmologists state that there seem to be but few types of eye infection that cannot be cause by dental infection. Iritis, choroidites muscle paralysis, corneal ulcers, and optic neuritis are listed as the most common. Bulson has stated that one-third of all cases of endogenous iritis are due to dental infections. Others give a more conservative estimates, but even they list more than ten percent.

Kravitz tells us that reflex irritations can cause not only neuralgias but definite ocular pathology simulating inflammatory conditions. Irritated dental pulp tissue is the chief cause, but it can stem from impacted teeth.

Lowell of Boston is of the opinion that no definite cause for glaucoma (blindness, usually in middle life) has been found, but he believes infected teeth, lowering the resistance, open the way for it.

Reports from the Missouri Trachoma Hospital state that many cases of trachoma are not cured until infected dental conditions are removed. Dr. Sory, Chief Surgeon at the U.S. Trachoma Hospital, in Richmond Kentucky, does not believe that trachoma is cause by dental infections, unhygienic conditions prevailing, and best results are obtained when all such conditions are corrected.

From a study of this subject, it is evident that, even though the removal of the foci does not, in many cases, effect a cure, it does greatly aid in making a cure possible, where as it might not be possible otherwise. There are several routes through which the eye may become involved from infected teeth namely:

  1. From the alveolus directly through the bone to the orbit
  2. Through or under the periosteum, directly from the alveolus to the orbit.
  3. Through the blood stream, (probably the most frequent route.)
  4. Through the lymphatics
  5. From infected teeth directly to the eye via the fingers (Kravitz).

The relationship between the tissues of the orbital cavity and the oral cavity are very close, and those of us in whom the health and care of these cavities are entrusted have a very great responsibility. Not only is it important that we work close together, but we should be constantly on guard, and aid others in health service. Conditions in the orbital cavity and the oral cavity often give local expression to some underlying constitutional defect, and many “steps in time”, are made possible by our alertness.

Western Union Building. Richmond, Ky. May 1951. Dental Survey

Works Cited

“Russel Irvine Todd, DDS, FACD (Short Bio).” January 29, 1965. Print.

Justice, Roscoe M. “Letter to Dr. D.B. Robertson.” March 1965. Print.

Todd, Russell I. “Use of roentgen rays in the dental office.” The Journal of the American dental Association. The American Dental Association. Vol. 51, no. 6. December 1955. Print. 

Additional Resources