Do Americans or Brits Have Superior Oral Health?
While many American subscribe to the stereotype that the British traditionally have poor oral health — a notion reinforced by the Austin Powers film series about a fictional British spy with bad teeth — a study published in the British Medical Journal’s December 2015 issue proves otherwise.
Researchers in England and the United States analyzed data from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and its British counterpart, the English Adult Dental Health Survey. The teams looked at subjects age 25 and older, recording the number of missing teeth, oral health self-perception, and the effect of oral health on daily life. Education level and household income were included in the analysis. The study revealed that Americans experience a higher incidence of missing teeth than the British (7.31 versus 6.97, respectively). Socioeconomic inequalities in oral health were also higher among American subjects.
The authors note that sugar consumption, tobacco use, and other oral health risk factors were not considered in the research. Differences in policies for underprivileged patient populations between the two countries may also have impacted the results. Regardless, the British can now cite evidence that they enjoy better oral health than their counterparts across the pond.