Dentistry and Culture

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Dentistry has been practiced in myriad ways across time and cultures. While the last few centuries have seen an increasing uniformity in the field of dentistry, there is still some variation that can be found by looking at the practice of dentistry in different populations. Sometimes this means different societies, while other times it comes down to differences within subsets of a single society. Within the U.S., for instance, there are noticeable trends between socio-economic brackets, the largest of which is in relation to how likely we are to seek and maintain preventative care for our oral health needs. It can’t be overstated how important it is to brush twice daily and to go in twice a year for a Tulsa teeth cleaning.

Behind the Times

There are some societies, though they’ve grown few and far between, where the focus of daily dental care hasn’t spread much beyond that of removing visible food matter from the teeth. This can contribute to higher rates of oral health issues, specifically with gum disease. Some differences in dentistry are more unique.

The Toothbrush, a Humble Beginning

There is an ancestor to the toothbrush, and it’s a stick. Since as early as 3000 BC humans have used a variation of the toothbrush, known as a chewing stick. It’s exactly what it sounds like, and though it’s no longer particularly common, this tool reigned for a long time. A twig from certain types of trees would be broken so that one end had a flat surface. This surface would then be frayed and smoothed before being used to rub the teeth clean of food matter. Many of the societies that used these chewing twigs developed norms for picking them from types of trees that had high concentrations of various natural chemicals that were beneficial to the teeth.

While the chewing stick truly is a remarkable development in human history, and still in use with some populations, overall the world has embraced a largely uniform and modernized version of dentistry. Like many other sciences, dentistry has benefitted and grown from the presence of an active global community. Organizations and researchers from different countries compile and share statistics and trends, which allows for best practices to be established and implemented. For the most part, these best practices are what so many of us have already become familiar with. Brush your teeth twice a day, for roughly two minutes each time. Floss daily. And see your dentist twice a year for your regular Tulsa teeth cleaning.

Dentistry, a Global Field

While this globalization of dentistry has allowed for better research and the emergence of best practices, it has also revealed some disturbing trends that are shared across many societies. One of the most striking trends is that quality of oral care is often highly correlated to socio-economic status. Put simply, the more money you make, the more likely you are to take pro-active care of your oral health. It’s not as simple as it might seem, though. There are variables at play beyond personal choice that come inbetween people and their Tulsa teeth cleaning.

Everything from the quality of our insurance to the way we were raised impacts the style and extent to which we take care of our teeth. People regularly report concerns over cost, and whether or not their dental insurance will be accepted as two of the top reasons they avoid going to the dentist. It’s harder to get accurate data on how often people actually brush at home, and what influences those behaviors, but it’s safe to assume there’s a correlation between perceived importance and quality of at-home dental care. It’s a matter of human nature that we give more attention to those things which we deem important.

There are some things, though, that need to be given such importance, independent of our feelings, and oral health care is one of them. The consequences of neglected oral hygiene can be staggering financially, and flat-out dangerous to our health. Our teeth need us to take proper care of them, daily, and to see our dentist twice a year for a Tulsa teeth cleaning appointment.