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Why have an American Smile when you can have a British one?

Isn’t it annoying when you smile at someone and they don’t smile back!

We’ve all been in public places and caught the eyes of passers by, instinctively smiled and watched as they walk past without acknowledging the courtesy. There is an expectation that when we emit the universal signal of human greeting, the other party should respond positively – even a token smile is good enough.

The “stiff upper lip” associated with Brits is not a virtue in today’s world. We want to express happiness through our smiles whether in the company of others or not. With the advent of mobile phone cameras and the amateur photo journalist, you never know when your image is going to be captured and transmitted without your permission through any portal onto the World Wide Web. There is nothing more disconcerting than cringing when looking at your image on Facebook or YouTube as you notice a series of unattractive smiles. What could be worse than going through your graduation, wedding or holiday photo albums and feeling ashamed of the historical record of what you could consider to be a horrible smile or an exposure of the world’s worst set of teeth!

The media portrayal of US celebrities, politicians and business people is that of a group of smartly dressed and highly groomed individuals who all have smiling faces with shiny, brilliant white teeth. However this is not the media image of our great and good such as Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Ken Dodd, Shane McGowan, Amy Winehouse to name but a few.

Great smiles have been sighted as a reason for US celebrity and business success while their UK counterparts are seen as sad looking and tight lipped – could it be that they are hiding the crooked, stained and missing teeth that they should have fixed before exposing themselves to the camera? Queen Elizabeth I was renowned for her discoloured black teeth, which was hardly an example for her subjects. Our current monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, is a testament to the improvements in British attitudes to dentistry and we all are following in her footsteps – princes, princesses, butlers and paupers alike. Many of us on this side of the Atlantic believe that the Americans tend to smile much more than we do. Some deem this pretentious or fake however there is a reason why they can smile unashamedly – they’ve got better teeth than we have!

The attitude of the average American to the appearance of their teeth has been significantly different from that of the average Brit. From early childhood visits to the dentists and orthodontists are made with a view to improve the cosmetic appearance and functionality of the teeth. These are taken very seriously by American parents who over the years have budgeted for the likelihood of significant expense. On the other hand parental attitudes in Britain are still tied to governmental provision through the National Health Service which has its shortcomings.

The American Dental Association say that the average US citizen spends around $300 a year on dental care.
Broken down the average family in the US will spend $2,000 per child on orthodontic treatment and will consider a further investment upwards of $10,000 on cosmetic dental procedures to enhance the smiles of mum and dad. In recent years the decrease in availability of NHS dental services has forced a change in our attitudes in Britain towards investment in personal and family dental health.

More people are making choices in order to improve their smiles, even if it means spending a considerable amount to achieve self improvement goals. This has nothing to do with how rich you are dental care is a lifestyle and health choice that you make on a daily basis which include dietary decisions, choice of toothpastes/brushes, flossing and visits to the dentist/orthodontist. It’s also about priorities, for the cost of an average 42” plasma screen you can give yourself, or your child, the wonderful gift of a beautiful smile which has a positive lifelong value – the plasma screen would have been replaced several times by then. Cool Britannia! Let’s show the world that we are a happy bunch who know how to smile!

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