News & Current Affairs

September 24, 2008

American v British teeth

Filed under: Health and Fitness, Latest, Reviews — Tags: , , , , , , , — expressyoureself @ 5:27 pm

American v British teeth

From top left, by row, Missy Elliot, Jessica Simpson, Ricky Gervais, Tony Blair, John Travolta, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Matt Lucas, Victoria Beckham, Kate Bosworth, Brandon Routh, David Walliams, Elton John, Tom Cruise, Megan Gale, Mick Jagger and Robbie Williams

Ricky Gervais is the first to admit that his teeth are neither white nor straight – and Americans mistakenly think he wears bad false teeth for comedic purposes. Why the dental divide?
British teeth are not like American teeth.

Hollywood smiles are pearly white paragons of straightness. British teeth might be described as having character.

Ricky Gervais at the Emmys
These are my real teeth. You think I’d wear them all the time if they weren’t real?
Ricky Gervais’ reply to interviewer remarking on his ‘false teeth’

So much character, in fact, that Ricky Gervais says one US journalist complimented him on being prepared to wear unflattering false teeth for his role as an English dentist in his latest film, Ghost Town. Only he didn’t.

“He was horrified that I could have such horrible real teeth. It’s like the biggest difference between the Brits and the Americans, they are obsessed with perfect teeth,” says Gervais.

Unlike many British stars hoping to make it big across the Atlantic, Gervais hasn’t bought himself a Hollywood Smile.

But what is it about the bright white and perfectly straight teeth of Los Angeles that Americans love – and expect of their public figures?

“Americans have the idea uniformity is equivalent to looking good. The British character is more free-spirited, more radical,” says Professor Liz Kay, dean of the Peninsula Dental School in Exeter and Plymouth.

She says Americans aspire to a row of teeth which are absolutely even and white.

Artificial smile

Whiter than white, it transpires. Teeth naturally vary in colour and the palette can tend closer to cream than white.

In Cold Comfort Farm in 1995; and in 2001 after Serendipity and Pearl Harbor

Kate Beckinsale, now glossy of mane and white of tooth

“US teeth are sometimes whiter than it is physically possible to get in nature – there is a new reality out there. The most extreme tooth bleaching is terrifying, it looks like it’s painted with gloss paint and has altered what people perceive as normal,” says Professor Jimmy Steele, of the School of Dental Science at Newcastle University.

The British traditionally prefer “nice natural smiles – natural in colour”, he says, and have had a more functional view of teeth and dentistry, whereas Americans have always seen teeth more aesthetically, hence the rise of the artificial smile in show business and pop culture.

Cue jibes such as The Bumper Book of British Smiles which cajoles Lisa Simpson into having a brace, and Mike Myers’ mockery of buck-toothed Brits in Austin Powers. Conversely, in the UK the snide remarks are saved for those who have had obvious work done, such as Simon Cowell or glamour model Jodie Marsh.

When it was widely reported that Martin Amis had secured a book advance in 1995 to help “do his teeth” – which the author denied – he was lampooned by critics. And more recently there has been much speculation over whether Gordon Brown has had a smile makeover.

Until now it has been considered rather un-British to go for an upgrade, says Professor Steele.

Simon Cowell

A new smile for a job on US TV

He now performs cosmetic dentistry on a wide spectrum of patients, from an 82-year-old woman with overlapping teeth who finally wanted to “do something for herself”, to a 17-year-old worried that fluoride had given her mottled teeth that were whiter than normal.

But the main difference is that Brits tend to go for more conservative treatments.

“Dental tools can do an awful lot of damage if used inappropriately. Crowns can mean a perfectly good tooth has to be cut down, which can weaken the tooth or damage nerves in the long run,” he says.

Metal mouth

While it is starting to be more common to see braces on adults, most people opt for quicker solutions, says Martin Fallowfield, a cosmetic dentist and executive board member of the British Dentist Association.

UV whitening treatment

Whitening can be done by chemicals or UV light

“Quite often teeth whitening is a 40th or 50th birthday present,” he says, a procedure that can be done in a dentist’s chair in two hours for about £650. A more intensive “smile makeover” – perhaps involving veneers, crowns and reconstruction work – can take months and cost anything from £2,000 to £10,000.

Dentistry in the UK is a £5bn market, and Mr Fallowfield expects this to rise to £15bn within 10 years, largely fuelled by private cosmetic dentistry. While NHS dentists are in short supply in parts of the country, the number of dentists registered with the General Dental Council is up from 31,029 in 2000 to 35,419 in 2007.

On average, cosmetic procedures account for a third of a dentist’s income from non-NHS work, according to research by the British Dental Association.

Among Mr Fallowfield’s patients is Jenny Horton, 36, who has had four crowns redone, six new ones added and her lower teeth whitened after she had a baby.

British toothpaste advert

Toothpaste has long promised to do more than just clean

“The first thing I notice on people is their smile,” she says. “I wanted a confidence boost – I was putting my hand over my mouth before, now I can smile. And the compliments have come flooding in: people haven’t noticed my teeth, but say I look well.”

But Brits haven’t embraced the full Hollywood makeover – yet.

“Americans don’t mind this unnaturally white look. It’s a new phenomenon, like buying a Rolls Royce and telling the world. They are wearing a smile as a badge,” says Mr Fallowfield.

Nor do aspiring actors and actresses need to get a new and very expensive set of pearly-whites, says Sylvia Young, of the eponymous theatre school. “A trip to the orthodontist can be a good idea, to get the teeth straightened if need be.”

As for the likes of Ricky Gervais, it makes sense to stick to his guns, says Mr Fallowfield.

“A lot of people in his place would have had their teeth fixed in this day and age. But for comedians, it’s good to look unique.”

 


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September 17, 2008

Tea ‘healthier’ drink than water

Tea ‘healthier’ drink than water

Image of a mug of tea

The researchers recommend people consume three to four cups a day

Drinking three or more cups of tea a day is as good for you as drinking plenty of water and may even have extra health benefits, say researchers.

The work in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition dispels the common belief that tea dehydrates.

Tea not only rehydrates as well as water does, but it can also protect against heart disease and some cancers, UK nutritionists found.

Experts believe flavonoids are the key ingredient in tea that promote health.

Healthy cuppa

These polyphenol antioxidants are found in many foods and plants, including tea leaves, and have been shown to help prevent cell damage.

Tea replaces fluids and contains antioxidants so its got two things going for it
Lead author Dr Ruxton

Public health nutritionist Dr Carrie Ruxton, and colleagues at Kings College London, looked at published studies on the health effects of tea consumption.

They found clear evidence that drinking three to four cups of tea a day can cut the chances of having a heart attack.

Some studies suggested tea consumption protected against cancer, although this effect was less clear-cut.

Other health benefits seen included protection against tooth plaque and potentially tooth decay, plus bone strengthening.

Dr Ruxton said: “Drinking tea is actually better for you than drinking water. Water is essentially replacing fluid. Tea replaces fluids and contains antioxidants so it’s got two things going for it.”

Rehydrating

She said it was an urban myth that tea is dehydrating.

“Studies on caffeine have found very high doses dehydrate and everyone assumes that caffeine-containing beverages dehydrate. But even if you had a really, really strong cup of tea or coffee, which is quite hard to make, you would still have a net gain of fluid.

“Also, a cup of tea contains fluoride, which is good for the teeth,” she added.

There was no evidence that tea consumption was harmful to health. However, research suggests that tea can impair the body’s ability to absorb iron from food, meaning people at risk of anaemia should avoid drinking tea around mealtimes.

Tea is not dehydrating. It is a healthy drink
Claire Williamson of the British Nutrition Foundation

Dr Ruxton’s team found average tea consumption was just under three cups per day.

She said the increasing popularity of soft drinks meant many people were not drinking as much tea as before.

“Tea drinking is most common in older people, the 40 plus age range. In older people, tea sometimes made up about 70% of fluid intake so it is a really important contributor,” she said.

Claire Williamson of the British Nutrition Foundation said: “Studies in the laboratory have shown potential health benefits.

“The evidence in humans is not as strong and more studies need to be done. But there are definite potential health benefits from the polyphenols in terms of reducing the risk of diseases such as heart disease and cancers.

“In terms of fluid intake, we recommend 1.5-2 litres per day and that can include tea. Tea is not dehydrating. It is a healthy drink.”

The Tea Council provided funding for the work. Dr Ruxton stressed that the work was independent.

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