Even steadfast Anglophiles have long had to admit that the British generally have pretty awful teeth. Here in the New World, thanks to the miracles of fluoridated water and presumably better dentistry, Americans have long enjoyed healthier and more attractive pearly whites.
Those American bragging rights have officially been rescinded. The British Medical Journal recently analyzed surveys conducted in the U.S. and England and concluded that when it comes to missing teeth, American adults are worse off than their British peers—Americans on average missing 7.31 teeth, the British only 6.97.
So, in the oral health contest, the English have pulled ahead. The fact that England has national healthcare and that all strata of society can therefore afford to go to the dentist has, of course, everything to do with this finding. America's increasing inequality plays a significant roll in dental and all other health.
"People on the lowest rung of the socioeconomic ladder in America reported worse dental health than their counterparts in England," the New York Times reported Thursday, "while Americans who have achieved the highest educational and income levels generally reported better dental health than the same group in Britain. The study added that 'wider societal differences in welfare policies exist, with England having a more comprehensive range of safety net policies which may help to reduce oral health inequalities.'"
To be completely fair, the study only compared the numbers of missing teeth and not things like orthodonture or other dental issues, although these too are affected by America's yawning economic gap. So, you can still enjoy your fun pop-culture references lampooning bad British teeth, like snaggle-toothed Mike Myers as Austin Powers. But the Telegraph of London has another idea for England's new tooth fairy: beaming Kate Middleton.
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