May 7, 2006

Tales of British teeth.

Here's a horrific article about the lack of adequate dentistry in Britain. It begins:
"I snapped it out myself," said William Kelly, 43, describing his most recent dental procedure, the autoextraction of one of his upper teeth.

Now it is a jagged black stump, and the pain gnawing at Mr. Kelly's mouth has transferred itself to a different tooth, mottled and rickety, on the other side of his mouth. "I'm in the middle of pulling that one out, too," he said.
That man is 43? Yeeesh. Go look at the photograph. Read the other horror stories. Then come back here and say what you will about health care in America.


Dave said...

"Then come back here and say what you will about health care in America."

And I thought you don't consider yolurself a libertarian??

TWM said...

You don't have to be a libertarian to understand that socialized healthcare is scary.

Dave said...

TWM: It was a joke.

37921 said...

This may be a trivial point, but can anyone (preferably a Mexican) verify that Mexicans call bad teeth "dientes de ingles" as this article claims? I have never, ever heard that expression. It doesn't even sound right. It would be "dientes ingleses" or "dientes de inglaterra". While neither of those three phrases appears on any Mexican blog, a Google search turned up a couple of references to "dientes ingleses". Curiously, all include exactly the same sentence:

"In Mexico, the phrase used to describe unsightly gums is "dientes ingleses" (English teeth)."

All look like commercial sites that are promoting cosmetic dentistry.

I call bullshit on the Times.

TWM said...

I know it was a joke, dave, I just thought it needed saying. Sorry it came across snarky.

Ann Althouse said...

37921: Apt suspicion. But you know the New York Times, always trying not to be a lamestain or a cob hobbler.

Noumenon said...

Early dentures and missing teeth are pretty common among the $9/hr material handlers I work with, here in Sauk County. It took me a while to realize that people, some under thirty, didn't have chronically tobacco-stained teeth but actual visible spots of black rot. Then there are the pointy stubs.

I don't know whether the company's dental insurance makes this better or whether it's merely another incentive that doesn't work. After all, neglect brings certain and painful punishment in the form of toothache, how much more of a deterrent or incentive could we add?

"Autoextraction" sounds way too painless. The writer is relying too much on the latin root words.

Joe Baby said...

Yeaaaah, baby.

And if the teeth are that bad, imagine what the inside looks like.

I think we fortify our water w/ flouride while they add sucrose.

PatCA said...

The Irish are also quite bad. You can tell the rich people--their teeth are all there and none of them are black.

downtownlad said...

Dentistry is different. It's almost ENTIRELY private. That's why it works.

Regular health care is about 50% controlled by the government (Medicare, etc.). Make regular health care 100% private and it would be better as well.

Joan said...

I fault this article for not looking deep enough into the actual effects of this dental neglect. It's very, very bad to have an infection anywhere in your head, because that means it's close to the brain.

IOW, you can die from a tooth abcess. I wonder how many deaths can be attributed to dental neglect in England?

I found the article horrifying. I'm sure I've financed all my dentists' retirements, because my teeth were severely damaged by the high doses of tetracycline I was given as an infant (better than dying, but a trial nonetheless.) I can't imagine not being able to see a dentist regularly, or quickly on an emergency basis. Yet another reason I'm glad I'm American.

AllenS said...

In December, I had a root canal on a molar that had been capped a couple of years earlier. Seen the dentist one day and the work was done on the next day. The cost was about $1000. Money well spent. Maybe their teeth are bad because they drink warm beer?

mcparsons said...

My kids attended a British school for five years and even they will describe bad teeth as, "you know, like the British."

Brendan said...

I must say, he'd look old even with a full set of teeth.

Ann Althouse said...

Chronic pain is going to mess up your whole face.

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
me said...

totally agree on the teeth issue...but there is this to consider:

Americans Less Healthy Than the British

Brendan said...

Believe it or not, he and Tom Cruise are the same age.

Maxine Weiss said...

Joe Baby: Fluoride is a heavy metal. It doesn't belong in the drinking water, any more than mercury belongs in vaccines.

We don't drink Fluoride. Nobody swallows their toothpaste.....I don't think.

So, why are Municipal Governments forcing it into the drinking water?

Jobs/water management contracts etc...

jobs vs. health of society.

Socialized medicine....more government intrusion, more mercury, more fluoride, more jobs/staffing/administrative bureaucracy via taxpayer largess etc...

I'm exhausted!

Peace, Maxine

Maxine Weiss said...

American dentists aren't much better.

Why are American dentists still using mercury/amalgam fillings?

Mercury kills. Amalgam poisoning, yet the ADA has not come out against it.

FDA says amalgam is safe and adequate. As, I've said on my website, when the Government renders something safe and effective, run run.

Peace, Maxine

XWL said...

Me, cites this Forbes report about a recent study that has been misunderstood and misreported across many media sources.

All the study states is that in the US non-Hispanic whites of comparable status report higher rates of illness than similar populations in the UK.

Many have made the incorrect leap to assume (including the study's authors) that this also means worse health.

It does not, and if you look carefully at the study, it only infers from this data that health in the US is worse.

A completely different and in my mind more valid inferrence from this data is that in the US due to the greater access to specialists and more sophisticated diagnostic tests and machines is that folks in the US know their health history better than folks in the UK.

If you look at life expectancy for the entire UK v. US population the difference is negligible.

This is just another example of bad science, where researchers have a conclusion in search of data, rather than using data to draw a conclusion.

william tanksley said...

I'm sorry, did someone say that fluoride is a heavy metal? Please check your periodic chart -- fluorine is the lightest of the halides, as close to the exact opposite of a heavy metal as you can get.

Maxine Weiss said...

Ok, William, but does that mean you should be drinking it?

Peace, Maxine

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maxine Weiss said...

Well, that may be but there's a few American smiles that look like blinding chicklets.

Cosmetic dentists are making celebrity teeth look too much like dentures. I like it when teeth looked real, somewhat white and straight---yes, but not like mannequins.

People getting full crowns/caps at 17.....trends in dentistry have gone right along with plastic surgery. It's that mannequin look---a sameness, with no variety or originality.

Peace, Maxine

MadisonMan said...

It's that mannequin look---a sameness, with no variety or originality.

Just the thing for when shopping at Wal*Mart after getting a venti at St. Arbucks !

And Maxine, yes, if you do want stronger teeth, drinking flouride can be beneficial.

vw: nuzkmmr: pro- or anti-vaccine statement?

Maxine Weiss said...

If drinking fluoride is ok, why do the back of toothpastes say do-no-swallow? Why are the back of fluoride mouthwashes warning not to swallow?

Fluoride might be good for teeth in small amounts....but not swallowing it in gulps, and not drinking it from the tap....and I certainly don't want it in my hair, and have to wash with it.

If you want strong teeth....cranberry juice. Swish around some cranberry juice.....and swallow that. I use it as a mouthwash, and it has heart and other benefits.

Also, to the person above who says Fluoride is no big deal because it's a lighter metal..... I don't want ANY metal going into my body. Metals of any kind should not be consumed: not lead, not mercury, not any amound.

Folks: Don't go around drinkin' fluoride, and don't let your Government knuckleheads put it in your drinking water!

Peace, Maxine

MadisonMan said...

If drinking fluoride is ok, why do the back of toothpastes say do-no-swallow? Why are the back of fluoride mouthwashes warning not to swallow?

Because the concentrations of fluoride in toothpaste and mouthwash are orders of magnitude larger than those in drinking water.

I don't want ANY metal going into my body. Metals of any kind should not be consumed: not lead, not mercury, not any amount.

Do you have iron in your diet?

I will pass on your cranberry juice suggestion (I hope you're brushing afterwards!). But thank you for supporting a Wisconsin #1 Industry!!

Maxine Weiss said...

Cranberries are Wisconson's number 1 industry?

I thought cheese was the #1 industry in Wisconson...????

Actually, too much Iron is a big problem, which is why some multi-vitamins are being marketed "without Iron".

The body can eliminate Iron easier than Fluoride. Women eliminate too much Iron through.....their monthly thing.

It's very hard for the body to eliminate too much fluoride, lead, or mercury.

And, with fluoride in the drinking water, all bets are off. You don't have control over what level/amount the Government decides to put into city wells, nor whether that fluoride is purified or not.

Maybe it's different in Wisconson. I wouldn't trust my municipal Government to change in a lightbulb correctly! We've got some very inept bureaucrats around here, who couldn't care less!

Peace, Maxine

ATMX said...

I believe MadisonMan's point is that metals are essential for the bodies function. Your body needs all sorts of metals: zinc, iron, cobalt, magnesium, calcium.

And fluorine is not a metal, much less a heavy metal. It is a halogen, and a very light element. Fluorine's toxicity stems from being more electronegative than oxygen and being able to displace most other negative charged atoms like oxygen and chlorine from compounds.

MadisonMan said...

Maxine, cranberries are an industy where Wisconsin is #1 in the country, having surpasses Massachusetts some years ago; it's not the #1 industry in Wisconsin.

I think CA is still #1 for cheese, but I provincially think WI has them beat for quality albeit not quantity. Cheese is also good for teeth, by they way, to bring this back on topic.

Fatmouse said...

MadisonMan, do you realize that in addition to fluoridating water, why, there are studies underway to fluoridate salt, flour, fruit juices, soup, sugar, milk... ice cream. Ice cream, MadisonMan, children's ice cream.

You know when fluoridation first began?

L. Ron Halfelven said...

And did those teeth in ancient times
Walk upon England's mountains green?
(/Eric Idle)

MadisonMan said...

You know when fluoridation first began?

That would be when humans first drank water -- natural Spring water -- that was (naturally) high in flouride. And suffered fewer cavities as a result.

Fatmouse said...

Nineteen hundred and forty-six. Nineteen forty-six, MadisonMan. How does that coincide with your post-war Commie conspiracy, huh? It's incredibly obvious, isn't it? A foreign substance is introduced into our precious bodily fluids without the knowledge of the individual. Certainly without any choice. That's the way your hard-core Commie works.

MadisonMan said...

I wonder what music was playing in the background as the flouride was piped in.

I'd say is was ragtime -- shameless music that will grab your son, YOUR daughter in the arms of a jungle animal instinct. Mass hysteria! Friend, idle hands are the devil's playground.

No wonder there's trouble!

XWL said...

So Fatmouse, are you really Kaavya Viswanathan?

Cause I'm pretty sure what you wrote was said nearly verbatim by USAF Gen. Jack D. Ripper.

kyle said...

I suggest only rainwater and the purest grain alcohol. Have you ever seen a commie drink water Mandrake? Have You?

Dawn said...

What is Smegal doing in the UK? Didn't he die in that river of lava?

And there are those in this country that want socialized medicine. Speaking as a nurse, this is the LAST thing we need.

Alex said...

I am British.

Americans seem to have this massive misconception about bad teeth in Britain. I will say that taking care of your teeth is not advocated and advertised by the government enough, but if someone has poor teeth then they only have themselves to blame. I shall explain...

Shortly after moving to a completely new area in the North, my wife developed serious dental problems, all in 3 different places in quick succession (lucky her). On each occasion, a phone call to 'NHS Direct' got us to an emergency dentist immediately within striking distance by car.

Theer are also horror stories of the difficulty registering with a dentist. After those emergencies, we were very quickly able to establish ourselves at a dentist - all sans payment bar the basic fees as opposed to the US.

Then we moved AGAIN. And guess what? Within a week of the move I had a choice between 2 dental surgeries I checked out and had appointments with follow ups booked for the following week.

I suggest that William pulls his finger out and gets on the phone to get a professional to look at his mouth rather than continue this rather foolhardy DIY route - if he lives in the South West near me, I could probably point him in the right direction!

To top that, the basic US healthcare system is laughable and that's paid for! The NHS over here is free and we get better treatments, free or token payments to prescription costs and a choice of doctors at our request.

Some but some things like healthcare should be free to all and of a high standard as a basic right. That, my American chums... is TRUE Freedom.

Alex said...

Oh, and top of that there's the free brace treatments so crooked teeth aren't an issue either as there's never the time that we can't afford braces.

And no back-door-on-the-cheap-for-people-that-can't- afford-$1000-a-shot-healthcare and thus better results without risk of a dodgy dentist.

Adam said...


Your unbelievable lack of actual knowledge surrounded by general bull- is astounding.

As others have said, Fluorine (NOT Fluoride, whice is an Anion of Fluorine), is not a metal. It's not even close to being a metal. Oxygen is closer to being a metal than Fluorine.

Second, you would be dead without any metals in your diet. Taking the example of Iron - 98.5% of all oxygen in your bloodstream, being transported to your muscles and tissue, is chemically bonded to haemoglobin. Only 1.5% is dissolved into your blood fluids. Haemoglobin is a (simply) protein molecule, organic, thus mainly Carbon. However, 5.5% (by weight) of EVERY haemoglobin molecule (and you have billions) is Iron. Iron is essential to the molecule, providing the binding site for the Oxygen in your bloodstream.

Thus without regular Iron intake, you would be inable to transport anywhere near enough Oxygen, = death.

Iron is consumed in any green vegetable, red meat, etc etc. So you are eating a metal all the time.

Another example of your body needing metals is Sodium (found in salt, NaCl, Sodium Chloride). Sodium is the metal used in your nerves to carry the electrical pulses (via electron transfer). Without enough salt in your diet, you would have a heart attack (obviously there are medical risks for too much salt).

Another blatant example of 'making it up as you go along' is your statement about Mercury. Mercury is hard to eliminate is it? Well you would think so, as even a tiny amount of mercury can kill you. It is poisonous. Iron is not. Fluorine is not poisonous (toxic (via irritation) yes, there is a difference).

On topic, I am a british citizen, and I can tell you that 'socialised' healthcare is fantastic. It's so fantastic, in fact, that not only does the UK have it... France does, Germany, Spain, Canada, Italy - I could go on. In fact, America is the only 'western' country not to use 'socialised' heathcare.

My teeth are perfect. I have had an NHS dentist for the whole of my life, I have had one filling from when I was a teenager and decided it would be fun to not brush my teeth, not due to poor dentistry.

Looking at that 'horrific' story, and the 'awful' picture - That man has not only obviously not been to a dentist in his lifetime (not due to the inability - moreso due to laziness). If he had, he would have had his rotten teeth pulled and been given false teeth by now.

Judging by his age (43) and his looks, I would also go as far to suggest that he is an alcoholic.

If you (a collective 'you' for America) think that he is an accurate representation of a British citizen, then I'm afraid it is you being brainwashed into 'happy with paying $50000 for an operation' heathcare.

Thomas Cochrane said...

Disparaging comments about UK 'socialized' health care are fairly frequent on blog sites.

The cliche about 'British Teeth' are especially common. Which is strange as high quality dental care in the UK is easily available to everyone. Free in a lot of cases.

What is perhaps more interesting from my perspective is why such perceptions persist.

Propaganda from the monolithic US health care industry?

I have worked for the National Health Service in the UK for over 25 years - and have a reasonably wide range of knowledge of it. I rarely recognise how it is portrayed in America.

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