We interrupt our normal programming in order to bring you the latest in topical debates and to debunk the pernicious myth of the British having bad teeth!!!
Your intrepid blog writer is British herself and was no stranger to wonky teeth before the joys of Invisalign braces. Even I thought the myth was true as I myself have seen a lot more snaggly teeth in the UK than in beautiful BC. However, after a damning tirade, scientists rushed to the defence of the nation.
The Detractor: Chris Van Tulleken
- This British doctor and TV presenter unleashed his opinions on the state of British teeth during an interview with popular UK magazine the "RadioTimes"
- He said that Britain has become "internationally renowned" for having "really lousy" teeth and, what's worse, no one really cares
- Dr van Tulleken is also of the opinion that tooth decay "doesn't really bother us" and thus results in a poor standard of oral hygiene
- Despite being a Britisher himself, he seems to have a very poor opinion of his fellow country-folk, stating "In the UK we're ok with brown, foul teeth, it doesn't really bother us, while in America it's very socially unacceptable. And that means we tolerate much higher levels of decay"
- He has some useful standard advice to offer, e.g. avoiding snacking due to the increased acidity it causes. And particularly avoiding fizzy lemon drinks. Plus using an egg time for children while brushing their teeth.
- A more radical solution he proposes is to increase social pressures around oral hygiene. He does not elaborate on how to implement this. Perhaps he means that we should stare and comment on less than perfect teeth? Or pretend to faint when catching a whiff of less than fresh breath? However, with our in built politeness, I am not sure if this will catch on any time soon..
In Defence of British gnashers: Justin Parkinson
- The brave Mr Parkinson, writing for BBC online Magazine quickly sprang to defend our maligned jaw furniture
- Using the example of the iconic Austin Powers he illustrates the bad teeth stock joke, particularly favoured by our American cousins. Austin skips around the streets of London, considering himself a sex-symbol, little knowing that his crooked, un-white teeth are the cause of much amusement to others.
- In a classic episode of the Simpsons, dentists use "The Big Book of British Smiles" to scare patients into improving their oral hygiene. See featured pic!
- However, our staunch defender, gathers support in debunking this myth, e.g. from dentist, Lance Knight, who states that his clients are definitely looking to improve their teeth health and appearance BUT are just less obsessed with having identically perfect, white teeth. He says that 90% of his cosmetic dentistry patients want to improve their smile but in a natural looking way. While the other 10% are looking for the more American aesthetic.
- Statistics show that private spending on oral work has increased by a whooping 27% since 2010, despite only 3% of the population having had teeth-whitening.
- In the biggest shock of all some measures of oral health in the UK report it to be better than in the USA!! According to an OECD report from 2009, the average number of missing or decayed health for a 12 years old was 1.3 for USA, 0.7 for UK
The debate may rage for years but it seems that what us British may lack in teeth perfection we do make up for in teeth health and character!!
And, in the end, all commentary is good as it keeps oral health in the spotlight.