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Groovy, Baby: Study Finds Toothy English Grins Match Yank Smiles

by Maggie Fox /  / Updated 
Image: A person undergoes dental work at the Care Harbor four-day free clinic
A person undergoes dental work at the Care Harbor four-day free clinic, which offers free medical, dental, and vision care to around 4,000 uninsured people in Los Angeles, Calif. on Oct. 15, 2015. REUTERS/Lucy NicholsonLUCY NICHOLSON / Reuters, file

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Americans are always lording it over the Brits — bigger cars, wider roads, flashier athletes.

But a transatlantic team of researchers has knocked down one of those boasts. They say Americans don't have better teeth than the British.

"There is a longstanding belief in the United States that the British have terrible teeth, much worse than U.S. citizens. This view dates back at least 100 years, with toothpaste adverts extolling the virtues of American smiles," Richard Watt, a dentistry professor at University College London, and colleagues wrote in the special tongue-in-cheek holiday issue of the British Medical Journal.

IMAGE: Tom Cruise in 2012
Brit or Yank?Getty Images — file

"Contemporary examples of this belief in popular U.S. culture range from The Simpsons to the Hollywood character Austin Powers and his repugnant smile."

They came up with a simple comparison: counting teeth. They used two large surveys covering 8,719 Britons and 9,786 Americans.

"The mean number of missing teeth was significantly higher in the US (7.31) than in England (6.97)," they wrote triumphantly.

That means the average Brit has one-third of a tooth more than the average American.

The British did, however, complain more about toothaches and other discomforts.

That didn't put off Watt. "Contrary to popular belief, our study showed that the oral health of US citizens is not better than the English," his team declared.

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