Human Life History Evolution Explains Dissociation between the Timing of Tooth Eruption and Peak Rates of Root Growth
Source: PLoS ONE
We explored the relationship between growth in tooth root length and the modern human extended period of childhood. Tooth roots provide support to counter chewing forces and so it is advantageous to grow roots quickly to allow teeth to erupt into function as early as possible. Growth in tooth root length occurs with a characteristic spurt or peak in rate sometime between tooth crown completion and root apex closure. Here we show that in Pan troglodytes the peak in root growth rate coincides with the period of time teeth are erupting into function. However, the timing of peak root velocity in modern humans occurs earlier than expected and coincides better with estimates for tooth eruption times in Homo erectus. With more time to grow longer roots prior to eruption and smaller teeth that now require less support at the time they come into function, the root growth spurt no longer confers any advantage in modern humans. We suggest that a prolonged life history schedule eventually neutralised this adaptation some time after the appearance of Homo erectus. The root spurt persists in modern humans as an intrinsic marker event that shows selection operated, not primarily on tooth tissue growth, but on the process of tooth eruption. This demonstrates the overarching influence of life history evolution on several aspects of dental development. These new insights into tooth root growth now provide an additional line of enquiry that may contribute to future studies of more recent life history and dietary adaptations within the genus Homo.
Improving Medical and Dental Readiness in the Reserve Components
Source: RAND Corporation
Describes options for Department of Defense policy that would help the reserve components of the U.S. military achieve higher levels of individual medical readiness, including dental readiness.
Pew: More Americans Turning To Costly Hospital Care For Preventable Dental Problems
Source: Pew Center on the States
Already stressed state budgets are shouldering an extra burden to cover expensive emergency room (ER) treatment for toothaches and other avoidable dental ailments, according to a new report by the Pew Center on the States. A Costly Dental Destination estimates that preventable dental conditions were the primary reason for 830,590 ER visits by Americans in 2009—a 16 percent increase from 2006. Pew concludes that states can reduce hospital visits, strengthen oral health and reduce their costs by making modest investments to improve access to preventive care.
Dental-related hospital visits are fueled by the difficulty that disadvantaged people have getting regular preventive care from dentists and other types of providers. In 2009, 56 percent of Medicaid-enrolled children did not receive dental care—not even a routine exam. The access problem is driven by multiple factors, including a shortage of dentists in many areas of the U.S. and the fact that many dentists do not accept Medicaid-enrolled children.
The cost of ER care can be substantial. For example, in Florida, dental-related, emergency hospital visits produced charges exceeding $88 million in 2010. States are saddled with some of these expenses through Medicaid and other public programs.
Toothbrush Can Chip Teeth and Cause ChokingSource: U.S. Food and Drug Administration
When using your electric toothbrush, you don’t expect parts of the device to pop off and chip your tooth, fly into your eyes or get stuck in your throat.
But that’s exactly what has happened to some users of the battery-powered Arm & Hammer Spinbrush—or the Crest Spinbrush, as it was called before 2009.
“It’s important that consumers know how to avoid the risks associated with using the Spinbrush,” says Shumaya Ali, M.P.H., a consumer safety officer at the Food and Drug Administration. “We’ve had reports in which parts of the toothbrush broke off during use and were released into the mouth with great speed, causing broken teeth and presenting a choking hazard.”
FDA regulates toothbrushes—whether manual or electric—as medical devices that are intended to help prevent tooth decay. Safety precautions should be taken with all kinds of electric toothbrushes.
“Electric toothbrushes can be very effective in removing dental plaque, and so they can help prevent dental decay and gum disease,” says Susan Runner, D.D.S., chief of FDA’s dental devices branch. “At the same time, it’s important to supervise children when they use these brushes, and to look out for any malfunctions of the toothbrush that might cause an injury.”
Smoking and Oral Health in Dentate Adults aged 18–64
Source: National Center for Health Statistics
Data from the National Health Interview Survey, 2008
- Current smokers (16%) were twice as likely as former smokers (8%) and four times as likely as never smokers (4%) to have poor oral health status.
- Current smokers (35%) were almost one and one-half times as likely as former smokers (24%) and more than two times as likely as never smokers (16%) to have had three or more oral health problems.
- Current smokers (19%) were about twice as likely as former smokers (9%) and never smokers (10%) to have not had a dental visit in more than 5 years or have never had one.
- Cost was the reason that most adults with an oral health problem did not see a dentist in the past 6 months; 56% of current smokers, 36% of former smokers, and 35% of never smokers could not afford treatment or did not have insurance.
There is a vast body of literature documenting the adverse effects of cigarette smoking on health (1–5). In 2000 the Surgeon General’s report on oral health noted that lifestyle behaviors such as smoking affect oral health as well as general health. It also emphasized the importance of oral health to overall health (6). This report examines differences among current smokers, former smokers, and never smokers in terms of oral health status, number of oral health problems, and the utilization of dental services. The study is limited to dentate adults aged 18–64.
GP patient survey dental statistics, January to March 2011, England
Source: Department of Health
In the most recent quarter (January to March 2011), 1.4 million adults were asked about access to NHS dentistry in the previous 2 years. Participants were asked if they had tried to obtain an appointment with an NHS dentist and if so what was the type of appointment and had they been successful. Patients who hadn’t tried to obtain an NHS dentist in the previous 2 years were asked to select one reason why they hadn’t tried.
The results from the survey responses are presented here at national (England), Strategic Health Authority (SHA) and Primary Care Trust (PCT) level.
- 515,000 responses, 37% of the 1.4 million people contacted
- 60% of adults in the survey tried to obtain an appointment with an NHS dentist in the 2 year period before January to March 2011 quarter;
- 94% of respondents who tried to obtain an appointment within the past 2 years were successful. 6% were unsuccessful (Success percentages exclude those who didn’t remember the outcome, unless stated otherwise).
- Respondents who have tried more recently are more successful. 96% of respondents trying within the past three months and within the past six months stated they were successful.
For 79% of adults the last appointment sought was for routine dentistry; 17% were seeking an urgent appointment, 3% other type of appointment and 1% could not remember.
- 83% of the most recent appointments sought were with the dental practice previously attended. In these cases, the successful percentage over the past 2 years was 96%1;
- For the 14% of patients who sought appointments with a new dental practice in the last two years, 78% were successful, 21% were unsuccessful and 2% couldn’t remember the outcome;
- North East SHA area had the largest percentage of the adult population seeking an NHS dental appointment in the last 2 years, at 66%, whilst South Central SHA had the smallest, where 52% sought an NHS appointment.
- Success in getting an appointment. North East SHA had the largest percentage, with 96% successful over the last 2 years, followed by the East of England and the West Midlands both with 95%. London SHA had the lowest percentage with 92%.
- For patients seeking an appointment in the last 2 years at a practice they had not been to before, North East had the largest percentage successful, with 86%1, North West and Yorkshire and Humber had the smallest (73% ).
Putting our money where our mouth is
Source: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
The renegotiations of the federal-provincial-territorial health accord are on the horizon, and everyone is looking for a way to save money and improve health. Sound impossible? Why don’t we put our money where our mouth is?
It’s a strange truth of Canadian public policy: the care of our lips, tongues, and throats is fully covered by public funding, but not our teeth and gums. This toothless approach to health care is a costly oversight for the public purse.
A mounting body of evidence shows a correlation between poor oral health and higher incidence of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, pneumonia, and Alzheimer’s. Tooth decay is a preventable by low-cost public health interventions. A coordinated approach to oral health policy could play a major role in improving health and reducing costs over the long run.
Canadians spend about $13 billion a year on our teeth. A public health program that brings dental care to kids in schools across Canada would cost about $550 million – about 4.5% of all dental spending and 0.3% of total health care spending. It would save billions of dollars of health care services down the road. An ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure.
Putting Our Money Where Our Mouth Is: The Future of Dental Care in Canada is a timely compendium of facts and policies that help decision makers weigh their options for cost-effective policy that can create lasting change, one healthy smile at a time.
Advancing Oral Health in America
Source: Institute of Medicine
Tooth decay is a common chronic disease in the United States and one of the most common diseases worldwide. Evidence shows that decay and other oral health complications may be associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes, respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. While tooth decay is a highly preventable disease, individuals and many healthcare professionals remain unaware of the risk factors and preventive approaches for many oral diseases, and they do not fully appreciate how oral health affects overall health and well-being.
In 2009, the Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA) asked the IOM to assess the current oral health care system and to recommend strategic actions for Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) agencies to improve oral health and oral health care in America. The IOM recommends that HHS design an oral health initiative consistent with IOM’s proposed set of organizing principles, which are based on the areas in greatest need of attention and on the approaches that have the most potential for creating improvements. In addition, the IOM stresses three key areas needed for successfully maintaining oral health as a priority issue: strong leadership, sustained interest, and the involvement of multiple stakeholders.
Read full report for free online. (National Academies Press)