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South African Dental Journal

On-line version ISSN 0375-1562
Print version ISSN 0011-8516

S. Afr. dent. j. vol.72 n.4 Johannesburg May. 2017




Mens sana in corpore sano



Bill Evans

Managing editor,




Head Office has made a far reaching decision.. all staff are registering to take part in the 702 Walk the Talk scheduled for 23rd July. Encouraged by the CEO, there is much debate about which shoes to wear, how long a walk to select KC Makhubele is leading the pack and no doubt his squash playing activities will ensure a fine performance on the walk. For the rest of us well, perhaps better walking shoes may help!

Mens sana in corpore sano . a healthy mind in a healthy body.

The issue truly revolves around this maxim which we have inherited from NOT Rome! Would it have associations with the ancient Greek Games? NO. Fascinating it is to realise that the use of the motto with the focus on exercise has its origins in England! John Hulley found a sentence written by the poet Juvenal: "Orandum est ut sit mens sana in corpore sano." The sentiment seemed appropriate and John used the last five words as a motto for his Liverpool Athletic club. That was in 1861. Juvenal had not in fact been considering sport at all.. the full sentence may be translated as " A man should pray for a healthy mind in a healthy body. " So the abbreviated sentence has now assumed a relevance to sports enthusiasts all over the world. It was particularly apt for the nineteenth century educationalists at English boarding schools where there was dual emphasis on not only the intellectual aspects but also a thorough exposure to physical training.

Prince Phillip attended a School which exemplified the philosophy "health mind, healthy body". Gordonstoun School in Elgin, Northern Scotland, still claims with pride that their emphatic programme of academie and challenging physical demands is designed to satisfy their motto: Plus est en vous There is more in you. That spirit and motivation thoroughly imbues the profession of Dentistry. We are fortunate indeed to be engaged in an occupation which so completely combines the physical and the intellectual. The attributes of excellence in Dentistry depend upon a high degree of comprehension of the intricacies of the physiology, the anatomy, the psychology, the psyche of our patients. But that must be supported by a physical commitment by the Dentist to attain comprehensive skills in manual dexterity. The efficacy of that combination contributes to the enormous satisfaction of knowing that a case has been managed with full attention having being given to the interwoven aspects of planning and delivery.

An outstanding opportunity to enhance capabilities in both these spheres will be grasped by attendance at the forthcoming Congress of the Dental Association of South Africa, August 4 to 6 in Cape Town. The programme is comprehensive, well befitting the maxim that the skilled exercise of the physical delivery of treatment is to be matched by an in-depth knowledge of the concepts, the structure, the nature of the techniques, materials and philosophies. The extreme pace at which technology in Dentistry has advanced, and continues to do so, demands of every practitioner the need to maintain contact. The paradox is that whilst more procedures become computer controlled, whilst the dental laboratories become more involved in each case, the clinician continues to hold prime responsibility. That responsibility can be met only by the practitioner who is well versed in all aspects, who holds both the knowledge and the skills. Congress attendance contributes effectively to ensure those attributes.

Whilst the 2017 Congress offers opportunities for delving into the intricacies of virtually every aspect of Clinical Dentistry, there are no sessions dedicated to physical fitness. Is that a problem? It is that issue which is central to this Editorial for this is perhaps the easier side of the equation for individuals to satisfy. We have progressed to a sit down practice.. were our forebears more healthy because they pumped a pedal-driven drill whilst standing?

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