The Difference Between British and American Teeth

Stereotypes say that UK teeth are brown and US teeth glow in the dark. Can you tell which celebrity smiles are American and which are British?
(Answers at end of article.


We may speak the same language (more or less), but there’s no doubt that there are lots of differences between Americans and Britons. The British all have crooked brown teeth, and the Americans all have over-bleached teeth that look like dentures. At least, that’s what the stereotypes say…

The BBC examined this phenomenon in a recent article on British vs. American teeth. Ricky Gervais, British star of the new movie Ghost Town, recounted how one American reporter assumed he wore false teeth for his role in the film. “He was horrified that I could have such horrible real teeth,” said Gervais. “It’s like the biggest difference between the Brits and the Americans, they are obsessed with perfect teeth.”

To those of us in the US, bad British teeth are a running joke. Mike Myers sported terrible false teeth for his role as Austin Powers, a British character. On The Simpsons, the town dentist scares children with his copy of “The Big Book of British Smiles.” There’s even a blog devoted to British teeth.

But Americans may be surprised to learn that the British mock us for our teeth as well. To them, our smiles are distractingly uniform and offensively white. “To me a row of perfect white teeth just says ‘American woman.’ Give me the natural look any day,” wrote one British man in response to the story. “Such teeth are as bad as an obvious facelift or oversized breast augmentation,” agreed an American cosmetic dentist.

So let’s review these celebrity smiles…

  1. Brad Pitt, USA
    His teeth are one of the most requested at US cosmetic dentists.
  2. Julia Roberts, USA
    Americans also request her teeth when getting dental makeovers.
  3. Queen Elizabeth, UK
    The monarch sports an appropriately British smile.
  4. Prince Charles, UK
    He also shows his British pride through his teeth.
  5. Johnny Depp, USA
    The actor wore pirate veneers for over a year while filming Pirates of the Caribbean.
  6. Ricky Gervais, UK
    No false teeth for him; they are the genuine article.
  7. Amy Winehouse, UK
    The singer’s smile is definitely not standard-issue American starlet.
  8. Barack Obama, USA
    Dentists across the political spectrum praise the presidential candidate’s teeth.

British Dentists Told Not To Reuse Root Canal Tools

Specter of Mad Cow Still Haunts the UK

British dentists have been warned by the country’s Chief Dental Officer not to reuse root canal instruments because of the risk of transmitting vCJD (mad cow disease). The warning applies specifically to reamers and filers, although the top doc also recommended other equipment (like saliva ejectors and aspirator tips) also be discarded after each patient.

Health officials in the UK estimate that anywhere from 1 out of 1,400 residents to 1 out of 20,000 residents carry the infection, although only a fraction show any symptoms. The disease is impossible to test for (at least in living patients), and current infection control standards will not prevent vCJD infection. The illness is transmitted via prions (essentially mis-folded protein molecules), not bacteria, viruses or parasites. Heat and disinfectants do not destroy prion molecules. There have been documented cases of patients infected via re-used brain electrodes or surgical tools.

So far, we in the US have been lucky to escape most of the mad cow scare. But just because we don’t know we’re in danger doesn’t mean we’re safe! Infections can take decades to show up, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.

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British Hope To Open Online Dental School

Another Possible Solution to NHS Dentist Shortage

One of the greatest threats to the UK’s National Health Service is a critical shortage of trained doctors in general – and dentists in particular. In response, the University of Portsmouth has announced an ambitious plan to build an online dental school.

Like much of the country, the Portsmouth area is suffering from a serious shortage of dentists. Within the past year, at least 33 local dentists have quit. Of the area’s 63 dental practices, only three are accepting new patients. “It’s a fantastic, innovative idea. Anything that makes teaching more accessible has got to be a good thing,” said the chairman of the British Dental Association. “My only concern is that about the practical side of learning. That is very important. We can’t train dentists solely over the internet so this project will have to be backed up with hands-on experience.”

Though the university already offers dental education courses, the new school would expand not just the student base but also the dental topics covered. Specialist professors plan to offer training in areas such a dental radiology, oral medicine and pathology. University officials hope the online school could eventually become international in scope, giving dental students across the world access to top-notch specialist education.

The real question we in North America should be asking is: What are OUR dental schools doing to use the Internet to meet the critical shortage of dentists in rural states and provinces?

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