Americans do not have better teeth than the English, say researchers. There is a belief in the USA that English people have terrible teeth, but new research shows there's little difference between the two nationalities.
Researchers wanted to 'put to the test' the theory in the US that English teeth are much worse than teeth in the US. The study team used examples like 'Austin Powers and his repugnant smile', and the 'rabbit teeth' of Everett in Donna Tartt's novel 'Goldfinch' to back up this theory.
The study analysed the oral health of participants, and also investigated educational levels and income data. The results showed that the US on average had more missing teeth, and also higher levels of inconsistencies between dental education and income.
Oral impacts from daily life was worse in England, but there were larger gaps in health between social groups in the US.
The researchers write: "In conclusion we have shown that the oral health of Americans is not better than the English, and there are consistently wider educational and income related oral health inequalities in the US compared with England."
The research, which features authors from University College London, the University of Colombia, and Harvard School of Public Health. They based 'oral health' on the number of teeth missing, impacts of daily life – pain, difficulty eating and avoiding smiling – and also adults' own perception of their oral health.
Two separate research teams – one in the UK and one in the US – then used data from the English Adult Dental Health Survey, and the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, respectively. All of the data from the samples featured adults aged 25 or over, and combined nearly 35,000 pieces of data.
The results showed that on average, US adults have 7.31 missing teeth, and English adults have 6.97 missing teeth.
"Indeed, our study showed a mixed picture, with Americans having significantly more missing teeth, the English reporting more oral impacts, and no differences in self-rated oral health between the two countries," the researchers added.