Development Dentanomics

Meaningfulness points me to this addition to Gapminder World: Bad teeth per person.

“Bad teeth per person” show how many decayed, missing or filled teeth an average 12 year old has in each country. The technical term of the indicator is DFMT for 12-years old and the data is taken from the WHO. We have unfortunately only data for one year. Note that the data in many cases are actually based on estimates for earlier years.

You can head to the site to look at which countries are which.

Dental problems seem to be lowest in the rich countries (good dentists) and poorest ones (no sugar?).

7 thoughts on “Development Dentanomics

  1. Gapminder is fantastic in the way statistics is made visibly understandable for lay people as well as researchers.

    For instance, we can see how “Democracy” affected Russia relative to how “Socialist-Nationalism” affected Yugoslavia, with statistics from 1980 until 2002. Take a look here

  2. I can’t figure out why the link won’t work, sorry for that. Anyway, it seems like Russia where worse of than Yugoslavia throughout the -90’s, which is quite remarkable.

  3. I’m a bit skeptical – both the fact that I’m not convinced there are good teeth statistics on some of the poorest countries and because the notoriously “bad teeth” UK does best of all developed countries (tied with Germany, which seems more likely).
    I think the dentists actually play a relatively small role here – as filled teeth are counted as bad. I’d guess that social norms as well as affordability of tooth brushes and paste figures in – I remember how we used to have toothbrushes for the village kids in Ecuador when they came back to school after lunch – because for most that would be the one time during the day they’d brush.

    What does make sense is that a lot of the sugar-growing countries are at the top (and many of them are middle income , maybe that’s driving results?): I don’t think you can do worse things to your teeth than constantly chewing sugar cane (and I have anecdotal evidence to back this up)

  4. I’m also a bit skeptical of this, not only due to the UK stats, but that so many developing countries rate better than Canada. Perhaps my experience is not reflective of the overall reality, but I tend to notice many more people with bad teeth in developing countries than in developed. I think perhaps the problem is that the stats are for 12 year olds, rather than an older segment of the population where the number of bad teeth in Canada probably rises little while the number in developing countries may easily rise with age. Just a thought.

  5. The proliferation of smoking, rather than of sweets, is probably what’s causing the increase in India and China.

    And the US? In the same month that my dentist in India told me I had no cavities to speak of, while my dentist in the US told me I had 11 “budding” cavities of which 6 needed to be fixed immediately. My Indian dentist charged me very little extra per tooth, since I was the one who had to pay and would have fought every penny I was charged; my US dentist probably charged massive amounts per tooth to my insurance company, and since neither me nor my insurance company would care much what she charged, she figured to milk us for all we were worth.

    To summarize: a tooth considered bad in the US isn’t considered bad in India, and thus all the statistics are off.

  6. If you interested in understanding diversity of dental health, consider researching dental health as it relates to the population’s diet. Weston Price concluded that people who ate wild/pasture-raised meats had healthier teeth. This would likely be more common among people who have less wealth, and therefore must hunt or raise their own foods, rather than relaying on factory farming.