I have returned briefly to the UK after my trip back to America and before my next adventure. (I’m heading to Asia for the first time and am very excited!) It was fun to be in the US and yet it was quite clearly no longer home to me. Amazing how these things change so quickly.
My flight to London was reasonably uneventful but my tube-and-train rides home from the airport were slightly more interesting. I saw on this trip two people (one each on the tube and train) with a common feature that I don’t recall seeing much in the US: they were missing most of their teeth. One was a medium-aged man, the other a young woman. In both cases there were no more than 2-3 of the front 8 (top and bottom) teeth present.
I recall seeing advertisements on the BBC America channel that included some comical line about Americans’ dim view of English dentistry practices, but I have to admit I had not thought too much about it since arriving here in the UK. I do admit I have seen some funky teeth in the UK, and occasionally have noted a smile that might not be so bold and open-lipped in the US. However, these two cases were far more noticeable for the near-complete absence of teeth–when faced with a couple of gap-toothed grins on reasonably young people, it’s hard not to notice and worry.
Americans are teased about their obsession with physical appearance, and it’s true that dental work seems to have been the most recent fad in clinical cosmetic procedures. I do not advocate “Extreme Makeover“-style veneers and I am definitely not in favor of bleaching teeth (it does very bad things to the integrity of tooth enamel!). I dislike obsession with appearance for the sake of appearance and am more interested in healthful tooth-brushing practices than perfect Hollywood smiles. However, I would definitely advocate seeking dental intervention in the absence of more than 50 % of one’s visible dentition.