Letters Austin Powers bites back

Oral health of Americans is no better, and may be worse, than that of the English

BMJ 2016; 352 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i256 (Published 20 January 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;352:i256
  1. C Albert Yeung, consultant in dental public health1
  1. 1Kirklands Hospital, Bothwell G71 8BB, UK
  1. albert.yeung{at}lanarkshire.scot.nhs.uk

Contradicting a popular stereotype that Brits have ugly teeth compared with the perfectly straight sparklers of the US, the study from Guarnizo-Herreño and colleagues shows that the oral health of Americans is no better than that of the English.1

Recent statistics show that on pure oral health rather than appearance, the UK does far better than the US. The latest figures from Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries put the UK top for the average number of decayed, missing, or filled teeth (DMFT) for 12 year olds, which is now 0.7. In the US it is 1.3. Britain not only did better than the US, it did better than all the other OECD countries that reported data that year.2

Almost all OECD countries were able to meet the WHO target of no more than three DMFT by the year 2000.3 However, there is cause for concern among some countries such as Australia, Austria, and the US, which have seen a slowing of the decline, or even an increase in DMFT in recent years.2

Rather than mocking the English for bad teeth, perhaps the Americans should be looking in the mirror and asking why they cannot take better care of their own.


Cite this as: BMJ 2016;352:i256


  • Competing interests: None declared.


View Abstract

Sign in

Log in through your institution