Social Question

john65pennington's avatar

Is it just me or do people in England all have bad teeth?

Asked by john65pennington (29240points) March 3rd, 2012

Question: Uk people, it is true that most people in England have bad teeth or is it just my imagination, seeing something that is not there?

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51 Answers

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

It’s just you. And stereotypes.

HungryGuy's avatar

I don’t know about the people in Great Britain, but the people in Ireland all have wonderful white clean shiny teeth :-0

ragingloli's avatar

Only in the south, like every country.
Comes from all the incest.

john65pennington's avatar

Simone, not a stereotype here. Just asking a question and apparently two other people agree with me.

Blackberry's avatar

Wtf? No. Are all Americans fat and stupid?

ragingloli's avatar

I am not. I thought the incest comment was a dead give-away.

john65pennington's avatar

I only asked this question, because of most movies I have watched, I noticed that most of their teeth are either crooked or not corrected as those of us fortunate people in America.

Blackberry, do you really believe that was a fair comparison? How you doing?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@john65pennington Oh, I stand corrected then. 2 whole other people. No wonder racism is alive and well, there are a lot more people in the lowest common denominator.

Aethelflaed's avatar

Overall, Brits actually have significantly better dental health than Americans, from things like brushing and flossing. However, they don’t spend as much energy on cosmetic dentistry, like braces and teeth whitening.

john65pennington's avatar

Ragingloli, not familiar with the incest record in England, only what I visually see on tv.

Simone, the sun is shining after terrible storms here and I am in a good mood. Going to leave now and enjoy the sunshine. The dark clouds are hanging over you and I and its time to go.

ragingloli's avatar

It was a reference to the American south and its incestuous rednecks.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@john65pennington Trust me, we’re not under similar clouds, at all

thorninmud's avatar

There are some interesting observations in this discussion sponsored by the British paper The Guardian.

Here are a few of the comments:

“British teeth are not bad, but irregular by American standards. American middle class children are normally tormented with gratuitous cosmetic dentistry to make them look like Stepford wives, so that any dental individuality is regarded as strange. An American woman I know whose parents resisted this fashion was bullied at school for her “bad” teeth, although she doesn’t have a filling in her head at the age of 45.”

Christopher Young, Sheffield England

“Until the NHS started up, and before the availability of fluoride in toothpaste (or water), our British teeth were spectacularly ugly. Look at any film footage of average Britons before about 1945, and weep. The standard of living of the contemporary American probably afforded them better dental care; and, I suspect, a certain cultural austerity would have meant that corrective procedures such as braces would be regarded by us Brits as extravagance and vanity.”

Simon Gilman, London UK

“I think Simon Gilman has put it best. Having spent my first 20 years in America and 14 years since living in the UK, I find that the average Brit is satisfied with teeth that might be crooked, stained, even slightly rotten, if they aren’t causing much discomfort to their owner. Average Americans have much higher standards of expectation in the state of their dental health—regardless of whether they have to pay for dental treatment or not, they feel very strongly that good teeth are a wise investment in looks and health. Many visits to the dentist by average Brits happen only after something has gone horribly wrong with their teeth, whilst Americans take an actively preventative approach with semi-annual dental checkups and intervention before any problems become severe. As a result of the greater amount of attention that Americans pay to their teeth, they are far more likely to notice and comment on the state of other people’s teeth.”

Wendy James, London UK

” I have to say, as a tourist here in London for the millionth time, I am always astounded by the bad teeth here which I believe is caused mostly by smoking. I think it’s cool to have iregular shaped teeth, but staining and rot…these are syptoms of bad hygeine, not vanity and not genetics. Apart from being the most disgusting habit in the world, smoking really makes teeth look gross. When I am attracted to someone, I imagine kissing them. If I can’t get past that initial imagining (ie. if the person opens their mouth and has terrible teeth) it’s NEVER going to happen. Instead of being obsessed with highlights, tans and boob jobs, why not invest a few bob in a trip to the dentist, a bleaching tray and some dental floss? The world would be a better place!”

Gary, San Francisco USA

“As a Briton living in the US for the past four years, I can honestly say that British people do have worse teeth. I came to US considering myself lucky to have a good set of teeth; however, over time I realized that my teeth were far from perfect. And all it would have taken was braces for a year or so. Americans do have far straighter and whiter teeth than English people. On a trip back to England I asked my dentist about British teeth, he said even when he offered corrective braces, crowns, bridges for free, people were not interested. I think British people are starting to care, but have a lot of catching up to do.”

P. Doodes, Chicago, USA

TexasDude's avatar

@ragingloli you’re so clever and enlightened.

MilkyWay's avatar

I was going to say what @Aethelflaed said. I agree with her answer.

ucme's avatar


OpryLeigh's avatar

It’s just you. I live in England and, whilst my teeth aren’t perfectly straight, plenty of my friends have lovely teeth. How many English people have you encountered that have caused you to come to this conclusion?

poisonedantidote's avatar

That is just a stereotype, however it is true that people from Whales fuck sheep.

TexasDude's avatar

@Leanne1986 probably the same number as the number of southern Americans that ragingloli has encountered. Bigotry and stereotypes suck, period.

DominicX's avatar

Stereotypes exist for a reason; they don’t normally just materialize out of thin air. Now, “all people in England have bad teeth” is of course a ridiculous statement, but I have noticed that trend as well (and I have been to England several times). And no, I’m not trying to be “racist”. I’d assume it has something to do with what @thorninmud said. It’s not a judgment against British people, I think Americans are just more obsessed with dental care. I had a dentist recommend braces for me because my “bite wasn’t perfect”, yet many people have asked me if I already had braces (even though I haven’t) because my teeth are naturally straight. Yet, that still wasn’t good enough for that dentist.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@DominicX But I think that’s the thing – Americans aren’t more obsessed with actual dental care, like preventing cavities and healthy gums. Americans are more obsessed with the appearance of dental care, and with using teeth as a marker of class (poor people often can’t afford the tens of thousands of dollars it takes to get one child braces, plus the whitenings a couple times a decade…). But straight, white teeth is no indication of actual dental health.

DominicX's avatar

@Aethelflaed Right. But I take “bad teeth” to mean “bad in appearance”, regardless of the actual health.

I’m wondering how common braces are in other countries, like the UK. For me, the fact that I never had braces made me like 1/100 in my middle school…I even saw people with what I would have considered “good teeth” getting braces.

basstrom188's avatar

Don’t believe everything they say on Family Guy.

Sunny2's avatar

What’s with the negative cracks about the English? First it’s arithmetic; now it’s teeth. I find the questions offensive! Why the attacks?

CWOTUS's avatar

Help take a bite out of stereotypes.

downtide's avatar

We just don’t waste so much money on cosmetic dentistry, making them perfectly aligned. It’s just not so much of a fashion issue here as it is in the US.

wildpotato's avatar

I agree with Aethel – I think it’s a matter of emphasis on the appearance of straight teeth, rather than on dental health, in America versus most other countries. I for one wish the American vision of perfect teeth weren’t quite so gung-ho – I had braces unnecessarily (or so I strongly suspect) as a kid – never had a cavity before that, but suffered terrible dental health afterwards from weakened enamel – multiple cavities on most teeth, my two front teeth chipped repeatedly, and I eventually had to have a root canal in one front tooth and both of them crowned (after a second round of braces a few years ago). And I’m 26, dammit! I’d have much preferred crooked teeth, less dental torment, and the ability to keep playing my beloved clarinet…

Rheto_Ric's avatar

Depends on your definition of bad teeth. Bad as in crooked, then yes, probably. We’re less vain, but we’re catching up. Bad as in rotten, then I’d say no, I’m pretty sure we’re on a par with the US. The poorer you are, the less you can spend on dental hygiene. The less educated you are, the less you care or are aware.
I think it mostly comes down to perception, and you’re looking through the lens of TV and movies. In general American stars think that big white Cheryl Hines tombstones are a good look. British stars are less vain, though like I said times are changing – Noel Gallagher being a good example. Check out his before and after

dabbler's avatar

@john65pennington You’re using movies as a basis for your observations? That seems a questionable practice… I mean, really, how much do movies accurately portray US citizens or any people with whom you are familiar? “Sort of” is the best you could say about most movies.

But if you want to use movies to inform your impressions about dental health in the UK, then “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery” will bring you up to date that contemporary British citizens have much more awareness of their dental health than they used to.

gondwanalon's avatar

I’ve never been to England but I’ve traveled about Australia 3 times and a lot of folks there appear to have bad teeth.

wildpotato's avatar

@dabbler Gotta disagree – of the two current British shows I watch, Doctor Who & Misfits, I often find myself visually glitching on the actors’ less-than-perfect teeth, and then mentally shaking my head at myself for having had that reaction. Why wouldn’t this be a good example for johnpennington to draw his generalization from, given that in America, every single actor I know of except maybe Steve Buscemi has obviously had mucha dental work? The thought being that if British actors do not make similar corrections all the time, that there might be some underlying cultural reasons for it.

judochop's avatar

is it just me or are all the people in San Francisco gay???

Of course not. Bad teeth are everywhere and considering that most of America is decedents of Europe you’d think that any stereotype from there would carry over to here.

dabbler's avatar

@wildpotato have you seen the movie? There is a running theme about Austin’s teeth in it…
The whole movie is a complete sendup anyway, most movies can’t be recommended as serious reference material for anything. My suggestion was tongue-in-cheek.

The Doctors Who might in fact be a reasonable example of the progress of British dentistry as the contemporary ones have decent teeth compared to the early ones. Their sidekicks have pretty good teeth too in recent years.

Lightlyseared's avatar

Yes. And all Americans are fat, stupid, fast food eating gun nuts.

BeccaBoo's avatar

May I intervene here…........

I am from the UK, and the South to boot! WE DONT ALL HAVE BAD TEETH!!!

Your question is insulting and ooze’s ignorance and prejudice.

Response moderated (Flame-Bait)
Bellatrix's avatar

Thank you @Aethelflaed for your reasoned and sensible response to this question. I think you have summed up the situation perfectly.

@gondwanalon, the UK covers dental care is provided under the National Health system so children can attend a dentist with no cost until they are 16 (please correct me if I am wrong UK jellies. It has been a while since I visited a dentist in the UK). The emphasis is not on cosmetics but on dental health. I am not sure if dental care after the age of 16 is subsidised? Perhaps someone from the UK can answer this?

In Australia, we currently have no government sponsored dental health care if you are not at school. It is something being strongly debated in our Parliament. Children of school age do have a dental van visit schools to carry out basic work. If you need braces or anything that could be considered cosmetic, you need to pay for that treatment. I am not sure about now, but when my children were younger, dental care for children under school age was not covered by Medicare. My son had some dental health issues and it cost me over $2500 and we are talking many years ago.

I think because of the very high cost of dental care here @gondwanalon it does tend to be something people put off. I also think, as @Aethelflaed has suggested in the case in the UK, there is less emphasis on cosmetic dentistry here too.

@john65pennington given the number of questions I have seen here from jellies living in the US who cannot afford dental HEALTH care. I think your judgement based on two people you know who have also seen British people with crooked teeth is frankly ridiculous. Dental HEALTH care is essential to overall health and it seems to me there is evidence to suggest wherever we live, we could all do better to ensure people can have healthy (rather than pretty) teeth.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@Bellatrix Thank you! :)

So, you mention braces not being paid for by the state. Does that change if the situation is really severe, and the way in which teeth (usually one or two teeth) are coming in will almost definitely cause medical problems?

stardust's avatar

Wonders will never cease!
I’ve never heard the likes.

Bellatrix's avatar

I’m not sure if braces would be covered in very extreme cases. I suspect people would be able to get some coverage under Medicare for that. Many people do take out private health cover of course and that will at least partially cover dental costs. It never covers the whole thing though.

My daughter had an overbite? issue as a teenager and had braces. It cost me about $3000 and there was no subsidy. I had to pay for it myself. Which I did. However, someone on a lower income would find that hard to do. I have always placed dental health care high on my priority list (even when I was a single parent) so I scrimped to make sure my daughter got her braces. Not everyone does that and I do have to say, I have been rather stunned to hear people say “oh just pull it out” when they have a tooth that needs a major filling and they don’t want to pay the (often exorbitant) fees.

I think we need to educate people more about the link between dental and general health. I posted a news story months ago about a medical specialist who was arguing we would save millions in health care if we just made sure people had healthy teeth and gums.

We also have a great shortage of dentists here too. There is a big push for more university places and for more medical staff generally to be trained.

cheebdragon's avatar

Maybe it’s part of their superior healthcare…..?

Berserker's avatar

@john65pennington No dang clue mate, but I wouldn’t rely on movies too much for stuff like that.

gondwanalon's avatar

@Bellatrix Thank you for all the information. I have dental insurance from work and the details as to what is and isn’t covered is very hard to determine for me anyway. In my case I really don’t care how much the insurance will cover for a needed procedure. I’ll cover that because having healthy teeth is very important to me.

Next week I’ll be having a tooth implant procedure done on my missing #2 molar way back on the top right quadrant of my mouth. No one can see that I need a tooth there so it is totally for function and not cosmetic. I don’t really need the tooth. But I want it and so it will cost me around $3,000 out of my pocket.

People that I’ve talked to say that if they were me then they wouldn’t want to go through the pain and expense to have a tooth implant. They don’t seem to mind blowing their money on fancy cars and such. Then when it comes to something as critically important as their dental and health care, well they want someone else to pay for that. It seems to me that they have their priorities messed up.

MollyMcGuire's avatar

I guess it’s just you, and by the way, that’s a gross generalization.

Lightlyseared's avatar

Braces are covered by NHS dentistry for children but not for purely cosmetic reasons. This is no different to the policy for adult patients where the aim of NHS treatment is to maintain dental health not to produce perfect smiles.

As a more reasoned response than my earlier one – yes americans may laugh at the slightly crooked teeth of people in the UK but no more than we laugh at americans for their vanity at having perfect doll like teeth.

@gondwanalon having big teeth at the back of your mouth to chew with is a very important function so I’d go for it. After an accident cost me 7 molars on one side of my face I did go for it but I didn’t have to pay as it was covered by my (British) dental insurance.

Response moderated (Flame-Bait)
harple's avatar

I’m really struggling to know how on earth to answer this question…

It smacks of ignorance, and I can’t imagine the response “Just asking a question.” being acceptable if one was to substitute the phrase “people in England” with “people of colour” in the question.

But trying to ignore that side of it, let me try, nonetheless, to give the benefit of the doubt and to provide an answer…

Personally speaking, my teeth are lovely. My impression of what makes teeth lovely, however, is based upon my upbringing (in Wales, actually, not England, so perhaps my experience is not valid to this question?) and on what is thought of as acceptable for teeth. It is very rare for me to even notice if someone has “bad teeth”, and when I do, they really are quite severely wonky or with notable gaps. It just doesn’t factor in what I notice when I look at people, and I think my friends from across Britain would probably feel similarly. But then some might not – that’s the joy of being human, we’re all different and shouldn’t be categorised by generalisations.

sliceswiththings's avatar

The brit I’ve been bangin’ this week has bad teeth. Kind of a turn off, actually!

mattbrowne's avatar

Never noticed this in any Western country.

In 1999 I traveled to the Ukraine. The teeth of the people was one of the first things I noticed. Quite shocking.

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