The Brits might have an unsavory reputation for bad teeth, but did you know that when it comes to oral care, they actually rank above the U.S.?
According an article featured in Insider Monkey in which oral health was determined by the DMFT index (otherwise known as the decayed, missing, filled teeth index), the U.K. ranks #4 among the best teeth, while the U.S. comes in at #9.
Why do other countries outrank the U.S? It’s due to a number of reasons from a more regimented dental hygiene practice to a better diet to a lower cost of dental care. While most countries have a similar routine to the U.S. (brush twice a day, floss, rinse, and repeat), there are a few lessons we can learn by looking at diverse dental hygiene practices from around the world. Today, we thought we’d introduce you to 7 different, and potentially useful, dental care practices from other countries that you may not know about!
1. Free is Best.
Free dental care that is! Who gets the #1 slot on the aforementioned DMFT index list? Denmark. Why is that? Well, a big part of it is that dental care is free for all Danish citizens under the age of 18, thereby making it easy to set a good precedent for dental health from an early age. While dental care is not free for adults in Denmark, it is state subsidized. Three other countries: Finland, Mexico and Germany on the top 10 DMFT list also offer free or subsidized dental care!
2. Diet is important.
Somalians who immigrate to the U.S. tend to have less healthy teeth than those who stay in Somalia. Why? In an article reported in EthnoMed, they state that the underlying cause is diet. Somali diet is calcium-rich, low in sugar, and high in tough meat-based protein. American food is often softer with a higher sugar content, causing cavities to develop when native Somalians move to the U.S., even if cavities were never present before.
3. Chew on this!
Chew sticks are one of the oldest cleaning tools, found as early as 3500 BCE in Babylonia and 3000 BCE in Egypt. They are made from different varietals of trees that typically contain a high amount of tannins, which contain antibacterial properties. These sticks are chewed at one end until it is frayed and then used to clean the teeth, while the other end is used as a toothpick. They are not used with toothpaste. Today, chew sticks are still used in parts of Africa, South and Southeast Asia, Australia, and the Middle East. In a 2014 North American Journal of Medical Sciences study, they compared the efficacy of Neem tree chew sticks (typically used in India) to manual toothbrushes among a sample group of 50 18-22 year old dental students who used their assigned cleaning tool over the period of one month. The results? The chew sticks paralleled and sometimes even exceeded the cleaning efficacy of toothbrushes. However, it should be noted that standard nylon toothbrushes were used. If the study were to be conducted with, say, an ergonomically designed RADIUS toothbrush, the results may be different. Not to mention that the sticks can also be rather abrasive on gums.
4. The Whole Hog.
One of the first bristle toothbrushes was made during the Tang Dynasty (619-907 CE) using hair from hogs sourced from Siberia and Northern China and affixed to bone or bamboo. Although not commonly used today, hog bristle toothbrushes are still available for sale and perpetuated as an alternative to other oral care products made from plastic that contribute to plastic waste. It might be saving plastic, but we’re sure the hogs are glad it’s not more popular.
5. Seeing Red.
In France, there is a popular toothpaste that is flavored with mint, licorice and cloves that has antibacterial properties….and is colored a deep lipstick red. Manufacturers claim that the particles of this color reflect light giving the teeth a whiter appearance. Results are mixed, but it’s definitely interesting to try! We’ve said it here and we’ll say it again, the best way to a white smile? Good dental hygiene practices.
6. That’s nutty!
Walnut tree bark is used as a cleaning agent in some Islamic countries. It is rubbed directly on the teeth with a finger. It was shown in an International Journal of Dentistry article that Walnut tree bark actually has antibacterial properties, particularly against Staphylococcus aureus, S. salivarius, and S. sanguis. Walnut bark also contains the whitening agent potassium hydroxide, so it can help with whiter teeth. However, it’s wise to use walnut bark sparingly as it can be abrasive on enamel.
7. Different is Beautiful.
In Japan, yaeba, or canines that have a fang-like or ‘snaggletooth’ appearance, are perceived as beautiful and youthful. It is such an appealing look that many women started to have false yaeba attached to their real canines. The lesson here? As long as your teeth are healthy, don’t be embarrassed by the unusual structure of your teeth, because somewhere in the world someone will think your smile is beautiful.
Wherever you are in the world, the most important thing is that you take regular care of your teeth. Brush and floss regularly and make sure to schedule those bi-yearly appointments with your dentist. Also, it doesn’t hurt to use products that are devoid of any nasty chemicals or additives common in many oral care products today.
We at RADIUS pride ourselves in dental hygiene products that use natural, eco-friendly ingredients. We even offer vegan and organic options. Our toothbrushes are ergonomically designed with you and your family in mind for the best clean possible.
We might not be in Denmark, but we know how to make sure you and your family have the best of the best oral care.