Nov 152011
15 Nov 2011

How Dental Care Differs from Around the World

If you’re looking for really good dental care, consider a move to Japan. There are more dental hygienists in Japan than in the United States. That fact underscores the differences in each country’s approach to dental health.

Dental Care Around the WorldDental Care Around the World

Here are some fun facts about dental hygiene around the world that might surprise you.

A recent survey of dental practices around the world revealed that the number of dental hygienists is growing significantly. The number of dental hygienists grew in Canada by more than 200% between 1987 and 2006. That seems like a lot until you consider Italy, where the number of graduates of dental hygienist programs grew by more than 2,200% during the same time period.

Dental hygienists can make more than $120,000 per year in Germany. In Slovakia, the annual wage is more like $7,000.

Toothbrushes were invented in China and are a relatively recent addition to oral hygiene routines. Before toothbrushes, people used twigs, roots, feathers, animal bones and porcupine quills to clean their teeth.

Ancient toothbrush

During World War I, toothbrushes were regularly distributed to soldiers to help reduce the incidence of dental cavities and oral disease on the front lines. When the soldiers returned from fighting, they brought their toothbrushes with them, giving rise to consumer demand for the devices. (The first commercially available toothbrush to use nylon bristles was offered in 1938. )

The military’s experience with dental health during World War I was so successful, it employed more than 22,000 dentists during World War II to provide dental care to its soldiers.

More than 80% of dental cavities occur in fissures and pits on the chewing surface of the teeth.

US News and World Report named "Dental Hygienist" as one of the 50 Best Careers of 2011, and suggested that the profession would have much stronger than average growth for at least the next decade. According to USNWR, median earnings for dental hygienists in 2009 were about $67,000 per year.

The world’s first dental hygienist program was first offered in 1913 in Bridgeport, CT. Twenty-seven female graduates of the Fones Clinic For Dental Hygienists were employed by the local school district to clean children’s teeth. The program was so successful at reducing cavities among the children in the school district that more dental hygienist programs were started and a new profession was born.

Fluoridated toothpaste was first marketed in the late 1950’s. By 1990, dentists saw a greater than 50% reduction in the number of dental caries in children.

Novocaine was developed in 1901 as a local anesthetic by a German chemist. In 1905, the inventor formulated a mixture that could be used safely in dental procedures. Even after the introduction of Novocaine, cocaine was used as a preferred dental anesthetic until about 1960.

The first porcelain crown was introduced in 1903.

The first all-electric toothbrush was invented and sold in Switzerland in 1960. In 1961, the first rechargeable battery powered electric toothbrush was marketed.

Studies have shown that electric toothbrushes offer no performance improvement over a manual toothbrush. Both kinds of toothbrushes clean teeth equally well.

7,000 year old evidence from cemeteries in the Indus Valley show that people received dental care that included drilling out cavities in the teeth.

Early Sumerians, Egyptians, Chinese, Japanese and Indians believed that "tooth worms" were the cause of dental decay. This belief migrated to other cultures and persisted into the 1300’s AD.

The Code of Hammurabi coined the phrase "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth," which ultimately gave rise to the modern concept of civil law. Unfortunately for the Akkadians, Hammurabi really meant extracting teeth as punishment for some crimes!

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  7 Responses to “Dental Care At Home and Around The World”

  1. I can’t believe people used to brush their teeth with those sticks! Sometimes I wonder how we would cope if we were left stranded in a desert island. I think the items I would miss the most would be my toothbrush and my dental floss – I really care about my oral hygiene and can’t stand having bits of food stuck between my teeth!

  2. Well, my hubby’s toothbrush does not look that different from that old stick, I tell you! Lol – Keep telling him to throw that away but he seems happy to risk ruining his teeth everyday with those old and curved bristles!

  3. I don’t know what is wrong with your husband… I personally like to change my toothbrush regularly; I hate to think I am spreading old bits of debris and bacteria back to my teeth and gums! yuk!

  4. I once went camping in the middle of nowhere with some pals and forgot to bring my toothbrush. Since we were staying there for over a week I had to find ways to clean my teeth. It was not easy, but I ended up chewing the end of a (non-poisonous!) softwood twig and then using the frayed end as a toothbrush. I would have been very grateful to have one of those in the picture above! :-)

  5. I used to be more relaxed about brushing my teeth, flossing, etc, but since being told that my breath reeks, I am quite paranoid about the whole thing now, and always clean my mouth after every meal or snack. There is no way I could go somewhere and forget my toothbrush! Until I sort out my bad breath problem, a toothbrush is one of the few things that prevents it from getting even worse!

  6. I am training to be a dental hygienist and most people are completely unaware of the massive difference it makes to their oral health to just do a bit of flossing every day, for instance. It would save them so much more money in the long run…

  7. Oops, I never floss. Perhaps it is time to start then…

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