Bad Brit teeth a myth?: British Teeth Study

Published: December 17, 2015

Bad Brit teeth a myth?: British Teeth Study, It would seem that the British public, long the butt of dentistry jokes told by Americans, has now been issued bragging rights by the scientific community.

According to an analysis of dental surveys in England and the United States, The British Medical Journal determined that American adults have more missing teeth than their English counterparts, 7.31 compared with 6.97.

The study concludes that the oral health of United States citizens is not better than the English.

Stories about the study were being widely shared online Thursday morning, especially in Britain, but it should be noted that the findings have significant limitations.

For example, it mainly focused on one clinical measure of dental health: the number of missing teeth, which researchers say could be explained, in part, by different approaches to wisdom teeth extraction. The study did not take orthodontics or aesthetic dentistry into account, and researchers pointed out that self-reported patient information is often subjective.

In its explorations of the differences between how the two cultures approach dental care, the study touched on a starker inequality in the United States. Americans largely rely on dental insurance, compared with the English, who are able to turn to publicly provided health care. People on the lowest rung of the socioeconomic ladder in America reported worse dental health than their counterparts in England 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.”

Though the British have long been maligned for having bad teeth, the study also points out that plenty of pop culture references exist, but few studies have ever assessed the comparative dental health of the two countries. (A craggy-toothed British secret agent portrayed by the actor Mike Myers provided the perfect title for the study, called “Austin Powers Bites Back.”)

That did not stop the British press from heralding the news. On Twitter, The Telegraph of London posted an idea that could replace Austin Powers as the new face of British dentistry: Kate Middleton.

Americans do not have better teeth than the British, study concludes https://t.co/OptYdaaROj pic.twitter.com/znRZ0fapDb

– The Telegraph (@Telegraph) Dec. 17, 2015

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