That Brits have bad teeth is a joke that has been making the rounds for far too long. But why is there even such a joke? Does it, as most jokes do, contain a grain of truth?
A bad joke’s history
It’s hard to tell who made the rather inaccurate observation first, or who had the wit to turn the myth into a now-outdated but still overused jab, but the media and pop culture played a role in making the joke so mainstream.
Donna Tartt, the American author of Goldfinch, described a British character’s ‘rabbit teeth’ in her novel, which won a Pulitzer. Mike Myers, a Canadian-American Hollywood actor who holds UK citizenship (both parents were born in the UK), used a toothy, discoloured grin to his utter benefit in the series of comedy movies starring the spy Austin Powers. Even the animated series The Simpsons got in on the action, with one episode featuring ‘The Big Book of British Smiles,’ which, by the way, was not a flattering portrait of British smiles.
The next question, though, is whether the joke is true.
The outdated joke
In the past, it may have held water, but not anymore. As a matter of fact, regarding visits to the dentist, Brits have outnumbered their American counterparts. Seven out of 10 adults in the UK have been to the dentist in the past year (according to a study), while only 4 out of 10 Americans made the trip.
Some experts suggest, however, that a more accurate representation of dental care should be measured on the same dates, during the same lengths of time. Otherwise, the results would be very different, and views will keep changing.
It is safe to say, though, that Americans are not faring any better than the citizens of the UK when it comes to dental health and hygiene. As a matter of fact, according to the same study, 1.2-1.3 percent of 12-year-olds in the U.S. have missing, decayed or filled teeth, compared to only 0.6-0.7 percent here at home.
Apart from the date and period of the study, it also helps to compare results from specific regions and socio-economic groups. For instance, a region where poverty is more common will have significantly poorer results regarding dental health and hygiene.
Whether you believe there is an inch of truth in the joke or not, you probably wouldn’t want to be on any statistics. You do not have to come from money to see an NHS dentist in Croydon like Gentle Dental Care.
Refer to this page to know more about how to take great care of your oral hygiene and avoid being cast with the same stereotype.