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OK UK?: What is Up With English Teeth?
I was watching "Top Gear" on BBC America and was wondering in what other country could two presenters repeatedly joke about the third presenter’s teeth. Way too personal for most audiences, and it was not for, what in any other place, would be obvious reasons. They were mercilessly teasing Richard Hammond because his teeth were white and straight!
I was a tad baffled. Not content with having, historically, the worst teeth in Western Europe, it would now appear that if you did something about it, you were then subject to ridicule. Caring about your teeth was now vanity.
Not that I was aware of our lowly standing in the world rankings of personal grooming while living in England, but it was made obvious when I transplanted to Southern California, which has to rank, permanently, at number one in that particular department. Almost twenty years of living here, and my teeth have almost recovered from the dental abuse of good old blighty.
Actually, that's not quite fair. I was a huge part of the problem, in that I did the basic daily maintenance, brushing, but was blissfully unaware of the wonders of flossing and other components of dental hygiene. I had never heard of having your teeth cleaned, for example.
Well, I had, but it was for our dog. The dog got his teeth cleaned by the vet, I suspect because he was totally crap at holding a toothbrush, while we built layer upon layer of plaque. The result of this amalgamation was the resultant, painful visit, to the dentist to get cavities filled. It had to be painful because you simply didn't even think about your teeth until they hurt. A cavity was not truly a cavity until you could put the tip of your tongue in it. The Dentist would scrape around and drill until he had a bigger hole, then fill it with melted spoons, or something.
Apparently being a dentist in the UK is so high stress, that as a profession, suicide is common. Add my dentist to that list. He was a tad humorless, to put it mildly, and some time after filling my last available tooth with metal, he plunged into depression and hung himself. I was now without a dentist and traveled up to Newcastle for my University years. Year one was a tad messed up by the simultaneous arrival of four wisdom teeth. They jostled for room in my metal filled mouth, squeezing the aforementioned amalgam out of their dental placeholders. I never found any lumps of metal, so I figured I swallowed them in the night.
The result was that in a few short weeks I had four wonderful, undamaged wisdom teeth, and a giant mess in-between. Of course this started to hurt, which prompted me into trying to find a dentist. This is a challenge in the North East, where for many generations, a typical eighteenth birthday present was to have what was left of your teeth removed, and a nice new set of falsies put in.
I was directed to the dental school where future depressed dentists were trained. Joy of joys, I got one of my fellow students working on my mouth (with adult supervision.) I saw this poor soul on a regular basis, getting drunk, trying, and mostly failing, to pick up young ladies, and all the other embarrassments of student life.
So, I had at least eight teeth removed by an eager twenty something from the Punjab, in an event that would now qualify as extreme cage fighting, (later we became close friends.) Filling the gaps became a challenge, as my eager friend saw an opportunity to earn an easy A, by filling my mouth with every experimental device on (or nearly on) the market.
My mouth is aching in remembrance as I write this, and I wonder, why on earth we Brits are OK with allowing this to happen. Dental care, expensive though it may be, is extraordinarily good in SoCal. Your comfort is taken as seriously as your insurance, and the dentists seem, in my experience, to be a very happy lot.
Driving to work in an open top Porsche will do that, I guess. Working for the National Health and driving into work in a rusted Allegro with an expired MOT, will not. The US Dentists are artists looking to attain perfection, the UK dentists have to see 300 people an hour, and they're all going to have false teeth by the time they are eighteen anyway. Piss poor motivation, without a doubt.
I did see evidence of change last time I visited, with UK teens suffering the wire-torture wonders of orthodontistry, much as their cousins across the pond have for many years. But then, I saw Clarkson and Captain Slow giving the Hamster a hard time and realized, it will never really change. Not until Jonathan Ross realizes that not being able to say the letter “r” is a speech impediment, not a cute character flaw.
I'm not even going to touch bushy eyebrows, earsprouting, and back hair, well just one word, manscaping , people, get the razor to the offending follicles...
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