How to Find the Best Toothbrush

Robert Korwin Teeth

The first manufactured brush was invented in an eighteenth century prison by a prisoner named William Addis. He used a bone with bristles passed through holes drilled in the bone. He eventually prospered by selling his invention. An early method of brushing was developed in the 1940’s by a Mississippi physician named Charles C. Bass, (who also introduced Nylon floss). He recommended turning the bristles towards the gum at a 45 degree angle and vibrating the bristles. The modified Bass adds a circular movement, and the Roll technique rolls down over the gums. [Read more…]

Medical Tourism

Because of research opportunities on the internet, reduced trade and travel barriers and lower air fare, the world is becoming a more interconnected place. It’s not so connected that one would go to London for work, to Japan for dinner and to New York for a nap. But it is connected enough that people would go to India for a health procedure.

Medical Tourism right now is popular. Patients Beyond Borders estimates there are 8 million cross-border patients worldwide, including 900,000 Americans who travel out the U.S. for treatment. Some people do come to the U.S. if it offers treatment not available in their own countries. The people who leave usually do for common treatments that are cheaper elsewhere. Basically, medical tourism seems to reward specialization and cost-effectiveness, every economist’s dream.

Taking a vacation to another country and getting treatment sounds nice, but there are issues anybody wishing to partake will run into. First, organizations that provide global health care price data tend to be deceptive. Rather than independent research institutions, they’re usually stakeholders who have a vested interest in you traveling outside your country. Second, the standard of care and the skill of doctors from different countries are vastly uneven. Figuring out if a country’s health care providers are good enough for you will be a challenge. Third, there are no overarching legal or ethical norms regulating all these medical procedures around the world. You might be safer staying at home. In sum, it’s information asymmetry, the uncertainty of consumers, that’s stopping the economist’s dream from being a reality.

As a rule of thumb, the best doctors and dentists available to you are here in the U.S.

Dental Trends in Carb-Driven Athletes

There are many causes of poor oral health: poverty, lack of awareness, laziness, and being a great athlete. The first three causes are obvious; but the last one, unless you’re a great athlete yourself, may have caught you by surprise. But if you look at a study based on the oral health of 2012 London Olympians, you’ll find that the trend is real.

The study involved an oral health check-up and a survey for each athlete. They found that 55 percent of the study’s athletes suffered from dental carries (tooth decay), of which 41 percent was into the dentine (the point where the decay is irreversible). Three quarters of the athletes had gingivitis (gum inflammation) and 15 percent showed signs of periodontitis (irreversible gum infection in the soft tissue around the teeth). These numbers are very similar to what you would find among the most disadvantaged populations.

The survey result however may be a little biased. First, these are Olympic athletes; so their commitment to training is well above the average or even the better than average athlete. Also, the survey asked questions to 302 athletes from 25 different sports. But the major sports were track and field (95 athletes, 34.9 percent of the respondents), boxing (38 athletes, 14 percent of the respondents) and hockey (31 athletes, 11.4 percent of the respondents). So basically, the survey was biased toward athletes involved in endurance-based sports. These sports require a ton of carbohydrate consumption (as opposed to weightlifters, who consume less carbs and more protein). Carbohydrates are a major cause of poor oral health, so when considering the response sample, the high level of bad oral hygiene shouldn’t be too surprising.

If you’re a carb-driven athlete, this is your wake-up call to work as hard for your dental health as you do for your physical health.