St. Patrick’s Day has got us thinking about teeth!
Sometimes we think that things will always be the same as they are – but St. Patrick has taught us differently. Could this same principle apply to dental caries, we wonder!
It’s been impossible to avoid all the hype about the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations that happen this week – not just in Ireland, but right throughout the world.
We’ve grown used to scenes of our Taoiseach presenting a bowl of shamrock to the US President each year, and the latest trend in celebrating Irishness around the world is turning iconic landmarks green for a day – anything form the pyramids of Egypt to the Eiffel Tower.
But in the middle of all this hype, there was a discussion in the surgery recently about the man behind the myth – and it led, strangely enough, to a discussion about dental caries and how we could eliminate it.
First of all, let’s look at what we know about Patrick from a factual perspective. Most of what we know of him are drawn from two letters – in Latin – which he is believed to have written. These are known as the ‘Confessio’ and the ‘Letter to the soldiers of Coroticus.
The Confessio is the more important of the two in that Patrick gives a short account of his life and mission. And we’re sure you won’t be surprised one little bit that it makes no mention of one of the greatest legends of them all – that Patrick rid Ireland of its snakes.
Science tells us that we probably didn’t have snakes in the first place, yet the legend persists. And this is where the conversation in MyDental led to dental caries, which is in the top two most common diseases worldwide.
One of our dentists expressed the wish that we could have a Patrick-like figure who could miraculously drive caries out of Ireland – letting them experience the same fate as those mythical Irish snakes.
There was a lot of support for the wish, yet the cold, hard truth is that we need to look to ourselves if we wish to drive down the incidences of dental caries.
Regular brushing will play its part, of course, as will the fact that we are lucky enough to enjoy a water supply that has been fluoridated – delivering extra protection to the enamel of our teeth.
Information and education are also important, and we are lucky that we live in an age where access to information has never been easier. And the final element in driving caries out of Ireland, we believe, is the quality of our dental profession here in Ireland.
We have a superb standard of training in this country – something that’s often forgotten when patients depart for foreign shores for dental treatment, lured by potentially lower prices.
The reality, in most cases, is that they’re not comparing like with like when they compare prices – while there’s also the fact that the ‘cheap’ treatment may not be so cheap when you factor in travel and accommodation.
By way of example, if you need veneers Dublin is a superb location to find world-class dental care, and we like to think that we’re right up with the very best that Dublin has to offer.
Veneers cost enough to convince you that prevention is, indeed, better than cure, and that an ounce of prevention is worth a ton of cure.
If you have a few spare moments over the Patrick’s Day holidays, maybe you’d like to take a short time out to read what the World Health Organisation has to say about the prospect of improving not just Irish dental health, but global dental health – http://www.who.int/oral_health/objectives/en/