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British teeth aren’t as bad as you think

Crooked smiles and gangly teeth. When you think of British teeth, that’s what you think of. Or, at least, that’s what popular culture thinks of.

Any parody of a Brit shows them with funny pointy teeth, from Austin Powers to Monty Python. But in reality, it’s the English who have the last laugh.

According to a DFMT study done by the World Health Organization, which examines dental health in children, British youth have fewer decayed, missing or filled teeth than French, Spanish and Swedish youth.

And compared to American kids, little Brits are miles ahead. In England, the average 12-year-old has 0.6 decayed missing or filled teeth. In the United States, it’s around 1.2 teeth.

Reasons for the large discrepancy between American and British dental health range from diet to education to health care access. Speaking of health care…

Seven of Ten Brits go to the dentist regularly to have their British teeth checked

A 70% mark may seem average. But compared to the rest of the industrialized world, it’s right up there. Britain ranks third in this category (France is #1). Interestingly, the US ranks 13th — only 40% of Americans visit the dentist regularly.

Access to oral care is a growing problem in the United States, and will probably get worse as the population grows and health and wellness funding for lower-income Americans is cut.

We’re lucky in Canada. The number of dentists per capita is rising quickly: one for every 1,600 people, up from one in every 2,000 in 1997. And the statistics indicate that we’re taking advantage of that fact — 66% of Canadians see the dentist regularly, up from 60% in 2007. But the Brits still see their dentists more.

So next time you see a North American parody of bad-toothed Brits, call them out on it.