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Don't Eat With Your Mouth Full

Where can we live but days?

steepholm steepholm
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So, anyway, here are my teeth, slightly out of focus (which some might think a mercy).


In their delicate yellowness (coffee not nicotine) and lack of uniformity they conform quite well to the American stereotype of English teeth. I haven't made a proper study of the matter, but I'd guess that in general the stereotype is correct, and that English people's teeth are a bit skewiff - certainly those of my generation and up. I can't say this bothers me greatly - or at all, in fact.

What puzzles me though is this. If Americans' teeth are generally straighter, it isn't because they grow that way naturally. No, it's because Americans go to orthodontists for cosmetic treatment. That's fine, of course, but what I find strange is the extent to which this particular form of cosmetic treatment has assumed the force of a cultural obligation in the USA. By contrast, while lots of people get nose jobs and face lifts and Botox, I haven't noticed a general open jeering at people (let alone nations) who don't (which isn't of course to say that some narrower social groups don't come under pressure to get those treatments too). When it comes to teeth, though, it seems there's a widespread sense that not to get one's teeth "fixed" is eccentric, risible, almost perverse.

Well, that's the way it looks to me from this side of the Atlantic, anyway, but I suspect I'm getting a very partial picture, given that so much of what I see is through the prism of the entertainment industry and is heavily skewed (far more than my teeth) in terms of race and class. Still, in so far as there's any truth to this picture, I wonder why the attitude to this particular form of cosmetic treatment differs from attitudes to the rest?

Here and now in the UK, where I live: at least 50% of the toothpaste in the shops is labeled as "whitening". Most local dentistry places advertise the fee-rich services of tooth straightening or whitening.

Growing up in the US, my dentist said I would need braces if my overbite got worse - but since it never did, I never had them. I did have a handful of friends who had them, but I don't know on what grounds.

I also grew up in an area with fluoridated water, which very little of the UK has. I do wonder, without having ever looked for evidence, if a certain amount of bashing-other-countries'-teeth might come from the initial campaigns to introduce fluoridation.

Edited at 2015-03-29 03:12 pm (UTC)

Here and now in the UK, where I live: at least 50% of the toothpaste in the shops is labeled as "whitening".

Yes, this is a development of the last ten years or so, I think. My daughter's generation is a lot more orthodontically inclined than mine.

Yesterday, by the way, I was going round Boots and say a sign reading "Whitening Products": I was very relieved to find that it referred to teeth rather than skin - though I've seen the latter too, in my local Tesco (which has a large clientele from the Indian subcontinent).