This is a good article from a very good site I didn't know existed called Armageddon Medicine (it deals with solutions to diseases and medical aliments when care is scarce), about the lessons learned from the experiences of POWs during the Vietnam War in terms of dental care (hint: there wasn't any). The results are actually mixed, or, not totally awful. On the one hand, for most of the men afflicted by teeth problems, the tragedy was that they were often able to get excellent dental care, but neglected the importance of it until it was too late (being shot down behind enemy lines and captured). Being in solitary conditions, against their will, and adding a bad toothache into the mix was a sure recipe for psychological distress, that would last until their freedom was reclaimed. But on the other, for those whose teeth were relatively healthy upon capture, they overcompensated and took above-average care of their teeth. In addition to the cheap toothbrushes they received, they fashioned toothpicks and floss out of bamboo and bone. Toothpaste was made from charcoal, soap and salt.
This article provided a fascinating glimpse at human ingenuity when people's backs are against the wall. But I shudder to think of a future without ready access to dental care. I knock on wood that I haven't had any serious dental problems, but I have been slacking; my last dental visit was almost a year. I also have no willpower when it comes to staying away from sweets. Anyway, I'd better brush my teeth.