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Pretty American Teeth

October 27th, 2016 · No Comments · Family Life

The other night David and I were watching some show on PBS.  It was a mystery.  Set in Scotland.  Or maybe just the main character had a Scottish accent.  One of the characters has braces.  They are talking about them and why she has them.  I don’t remember the exact question but I do remember her saying, “I want to have beautiful American teeth.”

Not for the first time, I thought it bit odd that having nice teeth is an American trait.  Is it? Doesn’t everyone want to have nice teeth?  Isn’t nice teeth a part of having good, overall, health?

Several years ago I was in a book club.  I signed us up for a “meeting with an author” drawing.  If your group won, the publisher would send you this particular author’s book and then schedule a phone meeting.  I don’t remember what the book was.  The author was English but living in Italy somewhere.   One of the characters in the book had bad, nasty teeth and someone (my sister, I think) mentioned it.  The author laughed and said something like, “Oh you Americans, with your fascination with oral hygiene.”  I was a little taken aback by the observation but we quickly moved on to other things.

We have spent a chunk of money having Jacob’s teeth fixed.  Right now he’s in phase II (of what I hope are only two phases) and has a Herbst Appliance and braces.  I don’t remember when we had that put on but it has been relatively recently. It is designed to pull his jaw forward so his teeth meet properly in the back.  Jacob also has braces on his top and bottom teeth.

We first took him to the orthodontist when he was about eight.  They chastised me for waiting so long to bring him in.  When he was about nine they slapped braces on his teeth and straightened out his front upper teeth.  Now they are trying to line his teeth up in the back.  It’s more complicated than that but that’s the gist of it.

My understanding is that if we don’t do this, the back teeth will ultimately wear out from not meeting up properly.  If we don’t fix this problem now, the alternatives are (1) breaking his jaw after he stops growing and stretching his jaw or (2) pulling his teeth when he’s in his thirties because the enamel will wear off and his teeth will be yucky.  Neither of those seem to be viable alternatives when we can do it relatively painlessly and inexpensively now.

So.  Does anyone know?  Are “pretty teeth” a particularly American trait?


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