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British people have been mocked endlessly for having poor dental health, but a new study reports otherwise. According to a study in BMJ, in some cases, US teeth are actually worse.

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

The new study showed that US citizens have more missing teeth and oral health inequalities between the wealthy and the poor. The researchers studied adults aged 25 years and above, with samples of 8,719 (England) and 9,786 (US) for analyses by education, and 7,184 (England) and 9,094 (US) for analyses by income.

Unsurprisingly, the team discovered strong links between low income and educational background with poor oral health. However, the difference is larger in the US. US citizens were missing 7.31 teeth compared to 6.97 missing teeth in Britain.

The Washington Post reports that the reasons for the results may include riskier US behaviours that impact oral health or the lack of nationalised healthcare system that includes dental services in the US, unlike in UK. The researchers also noted that ethnic compositionS did not affect the analysis.

Nevertheless, the British reported lower quality of life such as eating, experiencing pain, speaking and confidence, despite having better teeth overall. This could, however, be due to cultural differences.

Richard Marques of Wimpole Street Dental said that US citizens are still more aware of the importance of good dental health. For example, US children are routinely given braces, but Britain is only catching up to this trend. Still, this shows that dental awareness is on the rise in UK.

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