Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The appeal of an All American smile

It's a cliche, but true as all the best cliches are, that Americans have good teeth. I didn't meet a single person in the States whose teeth weren't straight and white. Some (especially in LA) may have been a little too white. A bit startling, somehow. And of course they've all had years of expensive and uncomfortable orthodontic treatment to achieve those All American smiles. Still, those teeth look good to me.

I got used to seeing them. Now, back in dear old Blighty,  I notice snaggle, discoloured, wonky, gappy teeth everywhere. It's a shame really. The British smile is - to generalise, but indulge me - harder won than the American one. It's sincerely meant, in the main. And yet, when the teeth are so bad... you might almost wish some people didn't smile so much...
No-one with these teeth would ever get elected in America
My teeth are fairly straight and reasonably white, but a little bit gappy. The kind of teeth no-one British would ever worry about. The kind of teeth an American would not tolerate.

I noticed the gaps a couple of years ago, on Skype calls. Not sure if it's because I was making those calls from Malibu, Home of the Perfect Smile. Or because the gaps really had got worse. I asked TLOML what he thought about the gaps.

A British boyfriend would have said 'they're fine, you've got perfectly good teeth'.

TLOML said, 'well, they'll only get worse with age.'

After two years of brooding over this comment and gurning at myself in the mirror to see if they really wore getting worse, I'm taking action. I'm getting Invisalign. It involves wearing clear braces for 22 hours a day, for a year. The braces get changed every 2 weeks to gradually train your teeth to be more American. At the start of the process they're tea drinking cricket fanatics who are obsessed with talking about the weather. After a year they call petrol 'gas' and are avid NFL fans. They'll probably be displayed in a broad smile more often, too.

The wearing of the braces for 22 hours has dramatically narrowed my snacking window. From about 16 hours to, well, 2. I don't mind, I could use a little restraint where snacks are concerned to be honest. It's a bit like having your jaws wired.
Me with my invisalign on: still at the British end of the spectrum

I should have had it done a year ago, then I would have perfect white teeth for my wedding. But I was a bit slow about it. The other advantage of having it done in the States would have been that there, no-one bats an eyelid if a 37 woman starts wearing braces. Here, I suspect most people think it's vain and silly. Especially since, as I said, I had 'perfectly good' teeth to begin with.

Ah well, call me vain and silly if you like. Living in Malibu for a while will do that to a person.


  1. Oh I'm not calling you vain and silly. I'm just SO jealous that I didn't know about clear braces when I went through hell for three years with the other kind....

    My teeth are still, by American standards, dodgy. Fortunately I didn't emigrate there!

  2. my mother will take this personally and now you will never ever be featured in the simpson's "big book of british smiles". gat toothed women have always appealed ever since i read the wife of bath at an impressionable age.

  3. There's the foxy Lara Stone/ Georgia Jagger gap. The one right in the middle. Then there's the one a few teeth over, where the food gets caught, which is more like the witches in Macbeth. I'm in the latter camp...