Historical Events  Science
British teeth

How do British teeth compare?

MMDE: Amongst the unhealthiest in the world

Current: Amongst the healthiest in the world

There's a popular feeling, outside of Britain for obvious reasons, that British teeth are amongst the unhealthiest in the world.

The BBC covered this and found the results to be surprising.

It found that as far back as 1963 the figure for the average number of missing or filled in teeth was 5.6, but since then the figure has steadily dropped and actually passed that of the US in the mid-1990's.

Movies and TV shows poking fun at this stereotype, such as Austin Powers or The Simpsons, haven't exactly helped the British cause in this respect.

The Hollywood smile

Everything you see on the media nowadays is carefully planned, so when you see dazzling white pearlies it's because that's what they wanted you to see. It's the same for bad teeth. Dentists across the world can make any look good, and the improvements made in this field mean treatment is accessible to most first world countries.

It's also a misconception that teeth which aren't straight, and/or not perfectly dazzling white, are not healthy. Also, it's a puzzle why Americans single out the British for this, since no other country pokes fun at them for this reason. The examples already mentioned, such as Austin Powers, are playing up to a stereotype which already existed when the movie was made. One explanation could be that in the 1920's there were many British stars just coming into the prominence in Hollywood, and the emphasis for that perfect smile hadn't started yet. it was noticed that many British actors had missing teeth, but since it wasn't an issue they were a lot slower to get them fixed than their American contemporaries.

Whatever the origin, you can't argue with the statistics ;-)