It’s a common (mis)perception that people living in Britain have some of the worst teeth in the world. This belief is perpetuated by Hollywood, as it seems that everyone living in the United States has perfectly aligned, pearly white teeth.
However, new research reveals that oral health in the UK is actually on a par with – or even slightly better than – that found in the US.
The study, published in the Christmas 2015 edition of the British Medical Journal, is the first to directly compare oral health data from the two countries.
University researchers from London and Boston, supported by colleagues in Bogotá, Colombia, analysed and compared data from the British Adult Dental Health Survey 2009 with the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (2005-2008).
So what did they discover about the status of the nations’ oral health?
The researchers found that Americans – and American women in particular – have less of their own teeth left compared to their British counterparts. They also discovered that although it’s mainly elderly people in the UK who are affected by complete or partial edentulism, missing teeth are more common in the States in middle-aged people.
When comparing different socio-economic backgrounds, the study found that the social disparities in oral health were equally large in both countries. The main difference, however, was that people with a lower education and lower income in Britain tended to have better teeth than those in the US, while the oral health of wealthy and educated Americans was superior to Brits.
This could be explained by the different ethnic composition, as certain ethnic minorities have poorer oral health than the majority white population.
So next time you watch an American TV programme or movie, don’t feel too disheartened as it isn’t necessarily portraying the real state of oral health over the pond.
Of course, if you’re at all concerned by your own oral health – and would like to improve it – why not book a consultation to see how we can help?