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Sundries
...a sweatshop of moxie

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Teeth

Today, someone praised my teeth, making the inevitable comment, "Wow, you're British, but you have straight teeth. Did you have braces?".

For the record, no, I did not.

Except for a small bonding procedure on my front teeth, I've never had any kind of orthodontic intervention to get my pearlies to look this even.

What's even odder, is that BOTH my parents have bad teeth, which were rectified with a lot of time and money.

This included having tonnes of cavities, whereas I've only ever had one cavity the whole of my life.

-- As an aside, even then it was a bit dodgy. My regular dentist was on holiday, so his partner took my appointment instead. He told me that I had a cavity, and that he would be filling it right then and there. I gulped hard, and accepted the procedure. Then he said that my x-rays showed "incipiencies" which would have to be filled later. It was then I suspected that he had seen my perfect teeth, and realised no good money was being made from me at all, and set out to alter that. I never returned. 6 months later, the other dentist I went to didn't utter a peep about "incipiencies" and gave my teeth a clean bill of health. Ugh, I hate cheats. --

Because of all this, I thus saved myself a lot of childhood aggravation, and teenage dementia, because of the simple fact that ever since I was a small child, I've been cleaning my teeth religiously after every meal, and before bedtime.

That's my "American" habit, which my mother encouraged as an antidote to my genetic background, and lo and behold, it worked.

But my ex-countrymen are not so lucky. In fact, we're rather conscious of that fact. Half of the Donny & Marie cult which still possesses Britons to this day was based on their teeth alone, I'm convinced.




We are always making fun of Americans for not having socialised medicine, and having to mortgage their houses to pay for their health care, but you know what -- Americans have mega-awesome teeth.

And they pay for their kids' braces happily, whereas we around the world, just don't.

It reminds me of that line in the otherwise unmemorable film, A Good Year, where Russell Crowe says, "The only country that issues teeth like that, is America".

Quite.

Also, it doesn't help that orthodontics sites like this one, come out already with a defeatist attitude about braces.

"If you have many decayed teeth, or your oral hygiene is poor, the orthodontist probably won't recommend any treatment involving braces. Orthodontic treatment is time-consuming and to get the best results, you need to be very motivated. Your orthodontist will be reluctant to start any treatment unless you can show that you keep your teeth very clean."

What? Please. You think an American orthodontist will say, "if you're not motivated, you won't qualify for braces."

Of course not. If the parent pays, he gets!

Not all Britons conform to this stereotype, which however like all stereotypes, do have more than a grain of truth to them (that's why stereotypes usually hurt, as well as stick).

I am going to show you two young Brits and you will judge the state of their choppers for yourself. Ready?


EXHIBIT A





Trust me, I'm as grossed out as you are.

This young man's name is lost to posterity, thankfully, because I lifted his photo from an online Oxford University forum without reference. But let me just say two things.

Frikkin' floss already!

-And-

Stop smoking, drinking creosote, chewing tobacco or WHATEVER it is that you do to get your teeth so yellow, so young. Okay, if you're 40 and have lived a life of tea-drinking excess, but sheesh, you're surely no more than 21!

But not all is lost in British dentureland. I give you,


EXHIBIT B





This is Vernon Kay, who is a young, all-purpose British presenter similar to say, Ryan Seacrest.

Amongst his claims to fame is having dressed as Mr. Blobby during a Noel Edmonds' House Party show.

Like Ryan Seacrest, he's known as a very elegant dresser, and for his close attention to his general appearance, such as his long, feminine tresses and gleeming white American teeth.

So, you see, all is not lost in Britain.

We know there is a world out there with people who have better teeth than we do, and we're starting to get our wits about that topic ourselves.

We may not be Donny or Marie any time soon, but no longer will we be content to be the lovable Mr. Humphreys (John Inman), either.





Even Madonna doesn't have a gap that big, yikes.

P.S.: Actually, my teeth have started to get a bit yellow, but don't worry. Dr. Jonathan Levine is coming to my rescue.

If you didn't already know of it, try GO SMILE.

Yes, pricey, but your teeth are your calling card to the world, and should always say: I'm free!

ADDENDUM: Oh dear, I've only just found out from Sundries commenter, Conv442, that beloved actor, John Inman, passed away last month...any British child under the age of 30 will know and love him not for his AYBS? work, but for his tireless commitment as one Panto dame after the other.

Had I known about his passing, I would never have been so cheeky so soon after his death. RIP Mother Goose.

Labels:

17 Comments:

  • I had braces, and it was hell whenever they were tightened. However, my teeth are not capped, so they maintain the "barbarian" look. (My brother, on the other hand, did have his teeth capped.)

    Of course, an idiot dentist latter messed up all that work by filling in a cavity too much. This caused my retainer to screw up and "re-crook" one of my teeth.

    Okay, I have to ask: Do British dentists give out goodie bags of dental hygiene products? (New toothbrush, small tube of toothpaste, floss, etc.)

    By Blogger Alcibiades, at Thu Apr 05, 02:29:00 am GMT-4  

  • I actually find a lot of American dentistry quite terrifying - the whole bleached white thing is quite offputting. It's rather like their bleached white eggs - I seek out organic eggs, not because they're organic but because they look like they might have once been in a chicken, like y'know, actual real eggs. And gawd, is there really a universe in which Vernon Kay can be cited as an example of what British manhood should aspire to? ;)

    By Blogger Simon, at Thu Apr 05, 06:44:00 am GMT-4  

  • Speaking of John "Mr Humphries" Innman, did you know he died last month from complications following a food borne hepatitis A infection he'd contracted in Dec '04.

    By Blogger conv442, at Thu Apr 05, 09:11:00 am GMT-4  

  • Never had braces, but I did have plenty of cavities. My bad! I hated wasting time brushing! Yeesh!

    I've been watching DVDs of "World At War", narrated by Olivier, and if you recall it contains interviews - on camera - of witnesses to the war. Among those: Lord Avon (Anthony Eden) whose protruding teeth looked odd in file footage, and whose interview segments are even worse. His teeth still protrude, he speaks with his nose up - highlighting that mouth - and his teeth are stained badly. And that's the sort of thing most Americans remember as "British Teeth".

    I did notice other interviewees - dockworkers from London, housewives, and so on - whose teeth looked fine, just well-used, if you will. So, maybe the pendulum was already swinging the other way.

    As Simon says (heheheee!) much of that "bright, white teeth" culture makes for some frighteningly vivid smiles! Yeesh!

    By Blogger benning, at Thu Apr 05, 11:29:00 am GMT-4  

  • I had braces, and it was hell whenever they were tightened.

    *cringe*

    However, my teeth are not capped, so they maintain the "barbarian" look. (My brother, on the other hand, did have his teeth capped.)

    Barbarian? How so? ;)

    My mother had her teeth capped (my dad paid for it actually), because she had horsey, aristocratic teeth.

    Of course, an idiot dentist latter messed up all that work by filling in a cavity too much. This caused my retainer to screw up and "re-crook" one of my teeth.

    Oh no...is it a molar at least? You know, doesn't show.

    Okay, I have to ask: Do British dentists give out goodie bags of dental hygiene products? (New toothbrush, small tube of toothpaste, floss, etc.)

    Hmm, no I never got that.

    Did you know what my (Oxfordshire) dentist gave out?

    Sweets.

    No, I'm kidding. I always got a lolly afterwards. Oh brother.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Thu Apr 05, 04:49:00 pm GMT-4  

  • I actually find a lot of American dentistry quite terrifying - the whole bleached white thing is quite offputting.

    Why! It's fun. You look like you're dancing the night away in the club, with the ultraviolet light on you. ;)

    It's rather like their bleached white eggs - I seek out organic eggs, not because they're organic but because they look like they might have once been in a chicken, like y'know, actual real eggs.

    I personally don't care for excessively beautiful teeth (yes, like D&M or another British favourite, Farrah Fawcett). You're right in that they should look half-way normal.

    And gawd, is there really a universe in which Vernon Kay can be cited as an example of what British manhood should aspire to? ;)

    LOL!

    Yeah, he's a bit like David Beckham in that respect -- anything but really British. ;)

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Thu Apr 05, 04:51:00 pm GMT-4  

  • Speaking of John "Mr Humphries" Innman, did you know he died last month from complications following a food borne hepatitis A infection he'd contracted in Dec '04.

    John Inman died????? OMG. :(

    RIP...I loved his panto!! Sniff, seriously.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Thu Apr 05, 04:52:00 pm GMT-4  

  • Never had braces, but I did have plenty of cavities. My bad! I hated wasting time brushing! Yeesh!

    Not having had a brother, let me ask the guys here:

    Do you think it's more difficult to get boys to brush their teeth, than girls?

    All the boys in my family have bad teeth (though straight...seems to be a more modern thing). The girls have decent-to-good teeth.

    I've always wondered about that.

    I've been watching DVDs of "World At War", narrated by Olivier, and if you recall it contains interviews - on camera - of witnesses to the war. Among those: Lord Avon (Anthony Eden) whose protruding teeth looked odd in file footage, and whose interview segments are even worse. His teeth still protrude, he speaks with his nose up - highlighting that mouth - and his teeth are stained badly.

    Oh my word yes, Anthony Eden...another really bad one was Harold Macmillan.

    Interestingly though, Anthony Eden (who married Churchill's niece, as you remember) was considered a heartthrob in the looks department.

    I'm guessing the standards of heartthrobbiness didn't include teeth back then, because they were indeed disgusting.

    Have you ever seen a photo of the Duke of Windsor? Gorgeous man but hideous teeth, my dear, just hideous.

    And that's the sort of thing most Americans remember as "British Teeth".

    Exactly!

    Until recently we Brits didn't have a riposte to make fun of the Americans. But recently there are a lot of "fatties" insults being flung around, so I guess we're even. :(

    I did notice other interviewees - dockworkers from London, housewives, and so on - whose teeth looked fine, just well-used, if you will. So, maybe the pendulum was already swinging the other way.

    Well, the working class traditionally have had a sweet tooth, and poor access to dentists, whereas people of Eden's background would've shunned sugary foods.

    I'm guessing a genetic combination aligned to the smoking habits played havoc with their gums.

    As Simon says (heheheee!) much of that "bright, white teeth" culture makes for some frighteningly vivid smiles! Yeesh!

    Dracula lives! ;)

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Thu Apr 05, 05:06:00 pm GMT-4  

  • correction above:

    "No, I'm NOT kidding".

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Thu Apr 05, 05:09:00 pm GMT-4  

  • It depends where in America you are from.

    In some rural areas (like around here) where there is no fluoridation, you will find some people for whom the combination of no fluoride + poor dental hygeine + tobacco use (especially chewing it) + lots of grit and dust in the air causes them to lose their teeth before they are thirty-five. I know people who are younger than I am (I'm 44) who have false teeth, or in some cases have two or three grayish-black nubs of teeth still hanging around inside an otherwise toothless mouth. For some reason, cowboys (and we do have a lot of working cowboys around here) are especially likely to be susceptible to this (add in their case the fact that they may well have had at least one traumatic injury to their mouth along the way).

    Not most people here, to be sure, but I do know some whose teeth are probably worse than anything you'd find in Britain or in a more cosmopolitan area of the U.S.

    By Blogger Eli Blake, at Thu Apr 05, 10:55:00 pm GMT-4  

  • whereas people of Eden's background would've shunned sugary foods.

    Why so? (Just curious.)

    By Blogger Internet Ronin, at Fri Apr 06, 12:50:00 am GMT-4  

  • It depends where in America you are from.

    In some rural areas (like around here) where there is no fluoridation, you will find some people for whom the combination of no fluoride + poor dental hygeine + tobacco use (especially chewing it) + lots of grit and dust in the air causes them to lose their teeth before they are thirty-five. I know people who are younger than I am (I'm 44) who have false teeth, or in some cases have two or three grayish-black nubs of teeth still hanging around inside an otherwise toothless mouth. For some reason, cowboys (and we do have a lot of working cowboys around here) are especially likely to be susceptible to this (add in their case the fact that they may well have had at least one traumatic injury to their mouth along the way).

    Not most people here, to be sure, but I do know some whose teeth are probably worse than anything you'd find in Britain or in a more cosmopolitan area of the U.S.


    Eli, I don't doubt for a second that that's true about Americans in rural or depressed places.

    But just a quick look at the vintage photos of yesteryear will show Americans with the most fantastic teeth -- black or white, rich and poor alike.

    That's just not the case in Britain, or other places, of whatever class.

    Americans have always been famous for their teeth -- check the old newspaper clippings about the Kennedys when old Joe was Ambassador to Great Britain, and you'll see that few omit mention of those "splendid Kennedy teeth".

    Bad teeth exist everywhere. But believe me, they exist less here.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Fri Apr 06, 01:38:00 am GMT-4  

  • Why so? (Just curious.)

    Well...I sometimes feel a little awkward when I reveal certain things about British society, because I know I am making other Brits reading this, a little uncomfortable.

    On the other hand, I love doing so. ;)

    The county set (as the landed gentry are called), or the upper-classes as sociologists like to call them, have for a very long time, eschewed any richness of foods.

    This includes anything too sugary, and in fact, it's consciously bred out of you, if you attend boarding school.

    (For example, the pudding after your meal becomes progressively less sweet, as the kitchen staff are directed to do so, by the Head)

    Nothing is ever said out loud, but I believe it has to do with three facts:

    1) It's a conscious distancing from the lower classes, who are famous for their sweet tooth.

    Anything they do, or like, the upper-classes emphatically do not.

    2) British society in general GREATLY dislikes fat people. Being fat is like being drunk in America -- it's a kind of unspoken social taboo when you're an adult.

    And of course, sugary and sweet things are the hugest cause of obesity in most countries (since not all cultures rely on frying).

    3) It smacks of self-indulgence, which is considered nouveau riche, and therefore of excessively bad taste.

    Another big nono.

    I know, Internet Ronin. We're weird. :)

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Fri Apr 06, 01:45:00 am GMT-4  

  • Oh...forgot -- if you're ever in Britain, and someone offers you a cuppa, and says, "one lump or two", you have two choices if you have a sweet tooth.

    If you care about social climbing, say "no thanks" to ANY sugar. That will impress certain people.

    At most, say 1 lump.

    I personally like my tea sweet, and what's more, I put my milk BEFORE the tea itself.

    Both are considered eccentricities, in a well-heeled person.

    But do I care? Do I cocoa! ;)

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Fri Apr 06, 01:48:00 am GMT-4  

  • I don't think he'd mind, in AYBS he always seemed to enjoy being the punchline of the joke.

    By Blogger conv442, at Fri Apr 06, 09:31:00 am GMT-4  

  • Unfortunately, it is an eye-tooth.

    Eli, my mother had dentures by the time she was forty. However, it wasn't because of lack of care, she was just genetically predisposed to tooth decay.

    By Blogger Alcibiades, at Fri Apr 06, 05:59:00 pm GMT-4  

  • I’ve tried various teeth whitening products for the past 2+ years. The majority of the products are either a hassle to use, don’t give me the results I want, or they hurt my teeth/gums. It’s been mainly whitening toothpaste and whitening strips because I can’t afford (nor does my insurance cover) dentist whitening.
    I’m starting to use a new whitening kit I saw in InStyle Magazine called Pro-White. I think I like it because I’m seeing more upfront results right away. I was somewhat skeptical at first because they guarantee “10 shades whiter in 10 days”, but I can see a noticeable difference. They’ve got various kits available. It costs a little more than whitening strips, but I don’t think it’s overly expensive. I found a $10 off coupon on the internet so that helped ( http://www.swoopup.com/stores/deals/ProWhiteTeeth.com ).
    I’m just hoping the results are long-term rather than temporary! =)

    By Blogger Mary, at Mon Mar 01, 12:11:00 pm GMT-5  

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