Here’s our pick of the most interesting recent dental and health news on the Internet
Seniors Seeking Dental Care Head South
About 60 percent of Americans now have dental insurance coverage, the highest number of insured we’ve seen in decades. But nearly 70 percent of seniors are not insured, according to a study compiled by Oral Health America.
Why the gap? Because dental care is not covered by basic Medicare and many employers no longer offer post-retirement health benefits. And the Affordable Care Act allows enrollees to get dental coverage only if they purchase general health coverage first, which many seniors don’t need since they are covered … by Medicare.
Meanwhile, the cost of dental treatment has surged in the last two decades and continues to increase at a rate of 5 percent annually. Since seniors tend to need costly dental work, like crowns, implants and dentures, many (according to this news report) are seeking affordable dental care out of the country. Some travel to Europe but most head to Mexican border towns such as Los Algodones.
Paleolithic Dental Care
In a study published in the journal Scientific Reports last week, researchers detailed their examination of a roughly 14,000-year-old molar with strange circular marks and chipping on its ancient enamel. Testing indicates that the marks were made by a Paleolithic dentist who used stone tools to probe and scrape away at the decayed area. It’s the same basic process your dentist uses today – use something sharp to remove the decayed part of the tooth, though today’s dentists use sterile drills rather than pointy chunks of rock.
The molar’s owner, a 25-year-old male , was uncovered from a rock shelter in northern Italy back in 1988. Scientists have studied the ancient specimen for decades without realizing that the holes in the man’s lower right third molar were historically significant.
The finding predates what had been the oldest known example of dentistry – several molar crowns with cavities surrounded by concentric ridges, discovered some six years ago in a Neolithic graveyard in Pakistan- by as much at least 5,000 years.
Other dental historical finds include the first known dental filling: in a 6500-year-old left canine tooth found a decade ago in Slovenia. Its crown bears the traces of a filling made of beeswax. The first known artificial tooth is a 5500-year old molar carved from shell that was found in the cemetery of Gebel Ramlah (Egypt) in 2008. It’s possible the carved shell was an amulet to ward off toothache, but researchers think its more likely to be a replacement for a lost tooth. Egyptians are also known to have treated dental infections and loose teeth with a mixture of honey and beeswax.
Don’t Try This At Home
PopSugar tells us that the latest trend in DYI beauty is making your own braces, and helpfully pointed us to a video where YouTube user singerforeverlove demonstrates how to use hair elastics to close gaps in a smile. “It’s going to hurt really bad, especially for the first few days, and you’re going to want to give up,” she admitted, “but don’t, because it’s totally worth it in the end.”
The American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics shared that the elastic band method can cause tooth loss (!) and gum damage so severe that it is very difficult to treat. If you need affordable, quality dental care visit dentalplans.com, not YouTube.
Straight Teeth Spark Future Tech Legal Battle
Align Technology, the maker of Invisalign, has so far been successful in its quest to legally block rival company ClearCorrect from importing its products into the United States. But ClearCorrect didn’t actually import physical dental aligners – it instead imported digital files that allowed the aligners to be printed in the United States. The legal battle between the two companies is likely to have a significant impact on the future of technology.
ClearCorrect scanned customers’ teeth, after which the patterns for the braces were created in Pakistan, and then were transmitted back to the U.S. for printing on a 3-D printer. But wait – does importing data break international trade laws? The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) says yes, it sure does. The ITC has also decided that it has jurisdiction over the import of such data, where previously it had authority only over the import of physical goods.
ClearCorrect has appealed the ITC ruling, and is backed by major technology trade groups who are also urging the U.S. Appeals Court for the Federal Circuit to strike down the ITC ruling. The industry-backers worry that the ruling sets a precedent that could have a huge impact on cloud technology, Cloud computing relies on data centers scattered across the globe and the ability to move data freely across national borders.