Do Americans actually have worse teeth than the English?

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The rest of the world has been making fun of bad British teeth for a long time. It turns out we might have been wrong all along: Americans actually have worse dental situations than the English, according to a study published in the British Medical Journal today.

The study, "Austin Powers Bites Back," looked at missing teeth, peoples' perceptions of their own oral health, and any lifestyle impediments from bad oral health, like experiencing pain while eating. What they found was that Americans on average were missing 7.31 teeth while the number was lower for the English, at 6.97 teeth.

"There is a longstanding belief in the United States that the British have terrible teeth, much worse than US citizens," the researchers said. "This view dates back at least 100 years, with toothpaste adverts extolling the virtues of American smiles."


The study looked at national data from England and the U.S. for people over 25 years old, using the English Adult Dental Health Survey and the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. It was conducted by researchers from the University College London, Harvard School of Public Health, and National University of Colombia.

They also found that poorer Americans were more likely to have worse teeth—not the case in England, because most dental care is covered by the public health system.

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