(Here’s a disclaimer: This article is reprinted in part from a blog written by Implant Seminars – Implant Dentistry Education. As I usually do, I’ve changed a few things to make it more interesting reading (hopefully) for the average person but the gist is the same. The article mentions climate change. Since this is a controversial subject, we here at Brilliant Smiles are not expressing an opinion on whether climate change is valid science or not…only that it is controversial. If you want to debate the subject go to Facebook. Or click here. To read the original article click here.)
Sometimes you have to marvel at our species’ collective progress. Almost everyday breakthroughs in science and technology are transforming how we live and interact with the world around us. In medicine alone, new theories of disease, new vaccines, and new treatment methods promise to vastly extend human life. It has been reported that sometime in the not-too-distant future, many of us could be living to around 120!
But just when you think nothing could stifle such optimism, we receive a dose of reality: Tooth decay remains a pressing problem for more than 2.4 billion people. That’s about one-third of the entire human race. And to make matters worse, some 190 million new cases are estimated every year.
In an age where miracles like a heart transplant can occur from a cadaver, bionic eyes are developed for the blind, and an artificial skull transplant was completed using a 3D-printer – all achieved in 2014 alone…how can this be??
There are several factors at work here. First, tooth decay often exhibits a threshold event or “tipping point” tendencies. In science, thresholds are moments where after periods of continual stimulus, a sudden new state is achieved. The term is used frequently in climate studies and posed as a question. How much additional carbon dioxide emissions from industry will push the Earth’s climate into a new state?
- When Your Mouth Runs Amok. Like climate change, tooth decay is a slow and deceptively sneaky process. The time it takes a microcavity to grow into a damaging and painful abscess can be measured in months and years. And during that long interlude, few symptoms may manifest. And if they do emerge, (things like hypersensitivity to hot and cold foods and beverages) they can be easily ignored. But eventually, that threshold is crossed. Perhaps the patient bites down and their tooth shatters. Or perhaps easily dismissed discomfort becomes excruciating. Long before the threshold is crossed, significant damage has been done. Economics and diet also play a significant role. Even in wealthier countries like the U.S. and the U.K., there remain great disparity rates between the rich and the poor. A recent study found that dental health was worse among the poorest 20% of British society. By the time these individuals reach 70, they have on average 8 fewer teeth than their richest counterparts. In terms of diet our overly processed, high-sugar products are assaulting our teeth like never before.
- Give Tooth Decay the Time-out it Deserves. Tooth decay may not grab the evening headlines like the threat of terrorism or March Madness basketball scores. But when tooth decay impacts a third of the human population, you can bet it’s on the mind of the worlds dentists. If left unchecked, tooth decay can negatively impact a patient’s life in a variety of ways, ranging from malnutrition and articulation troubles to social anxiety and barriers to employment.
This spring, as we embrace the warmer months ahead and yes, perform a little spring cleaning, let’s remind ourselves that now would be a great time to make a dental appointment. If humans really are going to live to 120 on a regular basis, let’s do what we can to make those years as pleasant and pain-free as possible.
While you’re at it, check out OUR Facebook page! Not as controversial as climate change but still entertaining nonetheless!
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