Who Has Better Teeth-The Brits or Americans?
Researchers have found evidence that British oral health is actually as good, or even better, than it is in the States.
But Americans may place greater emphasis on getting their teeth straightened, tackling overcrowding, and whitening up a yellowing smile, one U.S. dentist suggested.
“For at least 100 years there has been a popular belief in the U.S. that Americans have far superior teeth to the English,” said study co-author Richard Watt, head of dental public health and a professor of epidemiology and public health at University College London in England.
This impression, he noted, has many popular culture reinforcements, ranging from tooth-challenged British characters in the popular TV show “The Simpsons” to the “grotesque smile” of Mike Myers’ “Austin Powers” character.
“However, no detailed research has examined if this is actually true or not,” Watt said.
“[And] our results showed that Americans do not have better teeth than the English,” he added. “In fact, they had significantly more missing teeth, and inequalities in oral health were much worse in the U.S. compared to England.”
The study is published in the Dec. 16 issue of BMJ.
Watt and his colleagues compared data from nearly 16,000 Brits and 19,000 Yanks that had been collected by the English Adult Dental Health Survey (ADHS) and the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).
Overall, American adults were found to have a higher average number of missing teeth than their British counterparts: 7.31 versus 6.97, the study revealed. The difference was most pronounced in people between the ages of 25 and 64 years old. Americans in that age group had lost an average of almost one extra tooth than their English peers, the study showed.
But among those over 65, British seniors had lost an average of 13 teeth, while American seniors were missing just under 12 teeth, on average. And older Brits were more likely to report that poor dental health affected their daily life in terms of experiencing pain, having trouble eating, discouraging smiling, and/or negatively impacting their social life, the researchers said.