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Travel turns the most mundane tasks into adventures. In between climbing a volcano, eating our weight in desayunos tipicos, and hiking Cerro de la Cruz , we spent an afternoon having a very different kind of adventure than typical for us in Antigua: going to the dentist. With leaving our jobs behind, though, we also left behind our dental insurance: it had been roughly one year since we each had a cleaning when we stepped into Antigua, and it was time for that to change. After doing a little research, we learned that dental tourism in Antigua is fairly popular: the prices are cheap, the services reliable, and some of the dentists speak English.

Within days of arriving in Antigua for the second time, we marched down to the office of Dr. Ligia Porras, with a recommendation from our hostel in hand, to make an appointment. Let me tell you: going to dentist in Antigua is one of the only times either of us has actually looked forward to seeing the dentist—not because of the actual cleaning, but due to our burning curiosity about the similarities and differences between dental cleanings in the USA and Guatemala.

It was an absurdly simple experience: a woman walked out into the small waiting room upon hearing we were there, penciled us in for appointments the very next afternoon, and sent us on our way with a smile. No calling insurance companies, no paperwork, no medical history taken, nothing. Just a notebook, a pencil, and a smile. When the dentist called us back for our cleanings, we learned that the back room of the office consisted of two dental chairs squished fairly close together no privacy here!


We were surprised when Dr. Her mom was a nurse. One brother is an orthodontist, and another is an anesthesiologist. Her sister is a pharmacist. My father was a dentist. I had gone into his office as a child from the time I was 6 years old. And just watching him with his patients, by the time I became a high school senior, I decided that that was one of the top three possible occupations for me.

I love science. I love working with my hands. But number one, I love the relationships that my dad had with his patients.

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According to a recent Harris poll, most people would rather wash a sink full of dirty dishes or clean a toilet than visit their dentist or floss. Why do you think that is? For people of a certain age, going to the dentist is a bad experience. I think of my mother. She only went to the dentist when she had a toothache. This explains why, historically, barber shops were represented by red and white poles. The local barber would be responsible not just for close shaves, but also for tooth extractions and even minor surgery. It was not uncommon for dentistry to be carried out on the street, from a rudimentary cart.

They were bloody, painful, and very dangerous. As a result, people during the s tried their best not to visit a dentist unless they were in severe pain or needed urgent attention. The ability to grow synthetic teeth from stem cells would completely revolutionise the dental industry.

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It would, for the first time, allow missing or broken teeth to be replaced with organic material. It would also dramatically accelerate the rate at which replacement teeth can be designed and manufactured. So, unsurprisingly, researchers are keen to make it happen. Unfortunately, they have had to look to an unappealing place for inspiration — human urine. This is one of the few places which scientists can safely and ethically extract stem cells.

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However, for obvious reasons , they are restricted to testing their methods on mice. While some progress has been made, the results have been less spectacular than hoped. There are still all kinds of challenges relating to making the host mouth accept the new teeth.

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And, the involvement of urine has prevented the research from being taken seriously in some quarters. It is pretty gross, but until there is a more efficient way to collect stem cells, these researchers are making the best of limited options. You do not need to have the support of modern dentistry to understand how important it is to look after your teeth.

All it takes is a bit of bad toothache. There are few things as uniquely painful and frustrating as a poorly tooth, so there are just as many weird and wonderful cures for toothache as there are teeth in your mouth. Before the development of modern dentistry, pain relief strategies were often thoroughly weird or pretty disgusting. In some areas, it was believed that toothache was caused by little worms crawling around in the enamel. To remove them, you had to recite a magic mantra and kiss a frog no really. In one very old medical text, the author recommends sawing at the painful tooth with a nail.

Once it is good and bloody, you should then jam the nail into a wooden beam and leave it there. According to this doctor, the method is absolutely guaranteed to cure a toothache. Are you starting to appreciate your friendly local dentist a little more yet? You have probably heard a cautionary tale or two about just how dirty toothbrushes can get. In recent years, it has been suggested that keeping toothbrushes on a sink too close to the toilet will end up covering them in rather nasty germs. There is some truth in this, so it is always useful to shut the toilet lid while flushing.

However, the amount of germs which can make it onto your toothbrush, from the toilet, is very small. The real issue is moisture. The bacteria from your mouth thrive in warm and wet conditions, so if you really want to keep your toothbrush pristine, store it in a bathroom cupboard or medicine cabinet. This should keep the bacteria levels at a safe volume and ensure that you do not catch anything nasty. Always remember to change your toothbrush once every six months. This is the best way to maintain hygiene and keep your mouth as clean as possible.

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Never allow your toothbrush to sit in standing water, as it may develop mould and grime will accumulate on the bristles. If you need to take your toothbrush away with you, place it in a small cotton bag. This national event is designed to promote dental health, hygiene, and the importance of regular check-ups.

Across the country, dentists offer one off rates and throw special events to teach people how to care for their teeth. This is essential because, like millions of people throughout the world, many Chinese citizens feel very anxious about visiting the dentist. The best way to alleviate this fear is with information, advice, and support. If a dentist takes the time to properly explain procedures to patients, they are much less likely to be frightened of them.

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They begin to understand that dental treatments are routine, efficient, and almost always pain free depending on the procedure. Love Your Teeth Day has been running in China for decades now and, according to the government, the event has significantly increased general engagement with dentists. As oral health is a big part of overall health, leaving cavities and other problems to deteriorate is simply not practical or sensible. Why not show your teeth the love that they deserve and keep up with regular dentist appointments and check-ups? In a very different part of the world, an altogether more serious issue is being addressed.

While China is diligently promoting good oral health, the Appalachian regions of America are watching it degrade. As this area of the world is quite geographically isolated, the population has limited options when it comes to beverages. This is why the vast majority of people drink Mountain Dew, a carbonated soft drink filled with sugar and caffeine. It is cheap, tasty, and provides a boost of energy.

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In fact, it is so popular in the Appalachian regions that lots of people now drink it in place of water. As a result, there is now a serious dental crisis occurring in the region. There are some councillors who believe that banning people from buying Mountain Dew could help, but others point out the drink has become a kind of addiction for most.

If direct access to the drink is cut off, people will likely search for other ways to get their hands on it. You might have a fancy electric toothbrush sat in your bathroom. Or, you might prefer to keep things simple and opt for a solid head of bristles and a sturdy handle. Either way, you get to take advantage of all the modern tools and accessories designed for oral health. However, these tools are fairly modern inventions.