May 7, 2006


In a Dentist Shortage, British (Ouch) Do It Themselves (SARAH LYALL, 5/07/06, NY Times)

"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.

It is easy to be mean about British teeth. Mike Myers's mouth is a joke in itself in the "Austin Powers" movies. In a "Simpsons" episode, dentalphobic children are shown "The Big Book of British Smiles," cautionary photographs of hideously snaggletoothed Britons. In Mexico, protruding, discolored and generally unfortunate teeth are known as "dientes de ingles."

But the problem is serious. Mr. Kelly's predicament is not just a result of cigarettes and possibly indifferent oral hygiene; he is careful to brush once a day, he said. Instead, it is due in large part to the deficiencies in Britain's state-financed dental service, which, stretched beyond its limit, no longer serves everyone and no longer even pretends to try.

Whenever you go by a crumbling colonial cemetery around here you're reminded of a Brit's teeth.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 7, 2006 8:27 AM

Last December, I had to have a root canal done on a molar that had been capped 4-5 years ago. It cost about $1000. Well worth the money.

Posted by: AllenS at May 7, 2006 12:57 PM

This looks like a job for Lemming of the BDA!

Posted by: Mike Morley at May 7, 2006 6:09 PM
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