Changing The Image Of The ‘British Smile’

The state of the UK population’s teeth is often ridiculed by some living in the USA. Is it justified?

The idea of the British having ugly and discoloured teeth has long been a standard subject of American humour.

British characters are often seen to have crooked teeth, along with what often seems a very strange accent indeed! Although most countries do have stereotypical views on certain attributes of citizens of other countries, is it really true that our teeth are in such poor shape?

In fact, a study a few years ago showed that the British are less likely to have tooth decay than our American counterparts. This may be a symptom of a different medical care system and the fact that the USA has a large population, pockets of which contain families on very low incomes. Without the NHS dental care of the type that we are able to offer at our Wickford practice, regular dental care may be out of the reach for many people.

A whiter smile

What is true is that the Americans do spend more on cosmetic dentistry than those in the UK.  This is probably not surprising as cosmetic dentistry largely came about through the need to improve the smile of Hollywood stars in the industry. As many of the actors and actresses were then heavy smokers, a full screen shot of a smile could have been very unsightly. In order to correct this, dentists provided the first dental veneers to make their smile look as the public expected it to.

Although these veneers were probably fairly rudimentary, it would not be difficult to imagine that those who saw these new ‘perfect’ smiles would want to achieve the same, especially amongst the wealthier classes. With this new awareness that teeth did not have to be ‘as god intended’ the cosmetic dentistry industry was born.

Not just whiter teeth

Although the whiteness of our teeth is one of the most visibly noticeable improvements that can be made, and is why the tooth whitening procedure is probably so popular, it is not the only improvement that can be made to our teeth. Anyone who has seen American cartoons, and especially some of the later American ‘adults’ ones such as Family Guy, will be very familiar with the portrayal of British characters with very prominent teeth. Although, as a nation, we are generally good at laughing about ourselves, the reality is that some of us probably will have teeth that are uneven and crooked.

This type of ‘imperfection’ can not affect only the appearance of our teeth, but can even have an effect on their health. Uneven teeth are harder to keep clean, especially as the gaps between them may be difficult to access, even with dental floss. Bacteria can always find a way into these small spaces, and decay and gum disease can soon follow. Correcting an uneven smile then, can help you to have healthier and nicer looking teeth.

Orthodontic treatment

To correct a crooked smile, orthodontics will be required. Whilst porcelain veneers can, in some cases, be used to cosmetically close gaps in the front teeth, orthodontics, or dental braces, are more widely used to achieve this result. To determine the best orthodontic system to use, you will need to have a consultation with one of the dental team at the Cygnet Dental Practice. There are a number of different types of orthodontics available, each serving a slightly different purpose. Two of the most widely used at our Wickford practice are the ‘Six Month Smiles’ system and ‘Invisalign’.

Six Month Smiles

This orthodontic system is used to correct relatively minor problems where the visible front teeth are uneven. As you might guess from its name, it is a relatively fast acting method and the ‘six month’ relates to the average time taken to straighten the teeth. This can though, be much quicker, if the unevenness is very minor. This is a great way to give your smile a real boost in a relatively short period of time.


Invisalign is a revolutionary orthodontic method which does away with the ‘wires and brackets’ approach of most other braces. Instead, a series of transparent aligner trays are used to progressively straighten the teeth. This system offers many benefits for the patient as it can be removed when eating, and is largely invisible when worn. It is often used for more complex problems though, and, accordingly, will typically take longer to work than the ‘six month smiles’ method.

Although you may not have protruding teeth to the extent that the Americans seem to think many British people have; if you are concerned about either the colour or crookedness of your smile, we can help you to improve this through the use of cosmetic dentistry.

If you would like to see how we can help you, and you live in the Wickford, Rayleigh or nearby areas, please call the Cygnet Dental Practice today on 01268 733078.