“British People aren’t Known for their Good Teeth!”

I’m sure all of you will know that there is a stereotype about British people having bad teeth (all that tea and chocolate no doubt) and for that reason I have been afraid of going to the dentist since I moved to the US. I could imagine the dentist saying to his/her receptionist “we’ve got a British patient, now I’m going to be able to afford that holiday” or shuddering inside at the thought of having to deal with British molars.

I have put off visiting the dentist since I moved here for this very reason until last week my (only) filling fell out while I was eating a pack of Fruit Pastilles (it doesn’t get more British than that) and I swore loudly and realised that I would have to pay a visit to a dentist. This was not going to be fun or cheap or anything over than painful.

My wife (realising that I am hopeless at dealing with all forms of medical bureaucracy in America) kindly offered to find me a practice and found me somewhere near work and I made an appointment. They were so keen that they called me immediately three times to confirm the appointment (I was in a meeting at work so couldn’t answer) and before I could even call back a fourth call asked me if I wouldn’t mind changing the appointment time I’d booked an hour earlier. When I finally did get in touch with them I found they no longer covered my insurance. Not a good start!

Eventually I found another surgery close to work and obtained an appointment and this dentist didn’t call me more times than a spurned lover which put them in my good books. When I made my way to the appointment the first thing the dentist said to me  on hearing my accent was “where are you from?” which was immediately followed by “the British aren’t known for their good teeth”. I kid you not, he really went there. A British friend told me she had a similar comment from her dentist so I am not alone in suffering dentists who think they are funny.

Given that he was about to poke around in my mouth with a metal object I ignored his comment (or ignored it until I write the review) and let him get on with his job. It turns out that in addition to the filling that fell out I had another cavity so I will be getting two fillings next week. After his initial comment about British teeth he returned to the kind of questions I’m used to (from Americans not dentists) such as “are you from London?” and all was okay. He even told me that I had good teeth.

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15 thoughts on ““British People aren’t Known for their Good Teeth!”

  1. Do you think he was he has evidence of this (ie: they showed pictures of unfortunate British mouths in dental school), or was he just perpetuating a stereotype? Because I would have have asked for some HARD STATISTICS.

    1. I think it’s definitely a stereotype that goes back to the 60’s and 70’s when British musicians who became famous in the US had awful teeth. Americans definitely care more about whitening etc but I think there’s much less of a difference in terms of dental health these days from what I’ve seen!

    1. Haha! There was a study recently that I remember reading that said Brits actually had better teeth and I will have to find it and let this dentist know when I go back for the filling!

      1. Doing some work with AMTRAK I had a trip from Washington D.C. to New York City in the driving cab of one of the express trains. The Engineer (Driver) had such bad halitosis breath that I had to spend most of the trip with my head out of the window, at 125mph! What should have been; a) a working trip and b) an enjoyable experience, turned into a stomach heaving trial of endurance!
        I can give more examples if needed as well!!!!!

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  3. Is it that the British aren’t known for their good teeth, or rather that the Americans are known for their outrageously straight and white teeth? I think we put tremendous emphasis on the dentist and orthodontist over here. (They have good marketing and we’re superficial as hell.)

    When I was in Europe, I got tagged as an American as soon as I smiled. And I was so careful NOT to wear white sneakers…

    1. Yeah there’s definitely more of an emphasis on whitening and cosmetic dental work in the US. Having said that I saw a study recently that said Brits have better dental health and I want to find it for this dentist haha. 🙂

  4. First time I went to a dentist here in the USA after I moved he scared the crap out of me! After looking at my x-rays he said I needed 8 crowns and 4 veneers – and that was only on the top!!! (I also got a deep gum scaling which was the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced in my life!!!) Needless to say I didn’t want to spend nearly $3000 on dental treatement, but I also didn’t want all my teeth to fall out (I DO have bad British teeth and loads of fillings).
    Anyway I waited a couple of months till I was back in Scotland at the summer and went back to my NHS dentist who said he didn’t know what the American dentist was talking about. My teeth were fine and if he was still treating me he wouldn’t do any work at all.
    So once back in the USA I changed dentists and am much happier now. Still don’t have 8 crowns or 4 veneers….

    1. Good on you for not getting it done there! If I am ever offered deep gum scaling I now know to avoid it. I was reading reviews for dentists while looking for a practice and sadly it seemed to happen to a few people where they’d go to another dentist after being told they needed fillings, crowns etc and the new dentist would say they needed no work. I’m glad you found a better dentist!

  5. I have a friend back home in the UK who really lives up to the stereotype -his terrible gnashers would probably frighten small children if he smiled at them.

    It sounds like you got off quite lightly Tom, maybe steer clear of the Fruit Pastilles though..

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