We British need not have bad teeth: The American way

These days people in North America mostly look almost the same as people here in Britain. Once there were subtle differences in how people dressed, but these are fading quickly as popular culture becomes more and more globalised. There are more overweight people across the Atlantic, but even that difference is disappearing as Americans become more conscious of health issues.

But a difference quickly appears when people smile. For one thing, Americans smile much more often than we British do. Whenever you meet someone in the States you see a flash of white teeth. Not so here in England: a blank expression or a frown is more common. And when you do see a rare smile, it is usually not even and white but crooked and yellow. Even our celebrities have less than perfect smiles:

American (L) and British (R) smiles: From top left, by row, Missy Elliot, Jessica Simpson, Ricky Gervais, Tony Blair, John Travolta, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Matt Lucas, Victoria Beckham, Kate Bosworth, Brandon Routh, David Walliams, Elton John, Tom Cruise, Megan Gale, Mick Jagger and Robbie Williams

American (L) and British (R) smiles: From top left, by row, Missy Elliot, Jessica Simpson, Ricky Gervais, Tony Blair, John Travolta, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Matt Lucas, Victoria Beckham, Kate Bosworth, Brandon Routh, David Walliams, Elton John, Tom Cruise, Megan Gale, Mick Jagger and Robbie Williams

Yes, the biggest difference between the British and the Americans is in their teeth.

In the 1st century AD the Roman author Martial wrote [1]:

Thais has black, Laecania white teeth; what is the reason? Thais has her own, Laecania bought ones.

We can see the same contrast today, at least if we replace “black” with “yellow” or “grey”, with Thais being typical of us British and Laecania of Americans. And the reason is the same: the American Laecanias are paying good money for their good teeth.

This is surely something to do with the British mentality of the last half century. We have been brought up to expect the government to look after our health, including our teeth, through the National Health Service. We resent having to pay £16.50 for a check-up and £45.60 for a whole course of fillings [2]. The private dental sector has been growing rapidly over the last few decades, now treating 27% of adults [3], but the standards of treatment offered by the NHS are still considered the rule.

There are strict limits to which dental treatments are available on the NHS [4]:

Dental implants and orthodontic treatment, such as braces, are available on the NHS, but only if there’s a medical need for the treatment. …

NHS dental treatment does not include cosmetic treatments that are not clinically necessary, such as teeth whitening or veneers.

In addition, NHS fillings and crowns are metallic, not white like real teeth. So, while the health of British teeth has improved rapidly over the last few decades, their outward appearance has not. If anything appearances have got worse, because not so many people have lost all their teeth and so are wearing full dentures.

By contrast, most North Americans expect to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on dental treatment. Total dental care expenditure in the USA is around $100 billion per year, or more than $300 per person per year. A comparable figure for the UK, including NHS expenditure, is around £7 billion or a little over £100 per person per year. But NHS patients in England only pay only about £600 million, so less than £20 per year for each person not using a private dentist [5].

So the Americans are copying Laecania by buying teeth. What are they spending their money on? Fillings and crowns are of course white by default. Even slightly crooked teeth are corrected with braces and other orthodontic procedures. But the main difference from British dentistry is surely in the regular use of two kinds of procedure, dental implants and teeth whitening.

All of these procedures are available here in the UK. And they don’t have to cost a fortune. Follow the links below to find out more about what can be done.

  • Dental implants (in preparation)
  • Teeth whitening (in preparation)

Some people might wonder whether it is right to spend money on cosmetic dentistry of this kind. Of course it would not be good to put this above the necessities of family life, or above generous giving to good causes. Nor should anyone go into significant debt just to get their teeth looking nice. Also it is not good to be obsessive about these matters. But surely it is just as valid a choice for people who do have some spare money as spending that cash on luxury holidays or cars.

In addition, cosmetic dentistry can be really useful for some people. It can greatly boost their self-esteem. It can help them to get jobs for which appearances are important. Also it can put a smile in their heart and give them the confidence to express it with their lips. A few more smiles all round will help to make Britain a better place!

[1] Epigrams Book 5, XLIII, translation from Bohn’s Classical Library (1897) adapted by Roger Pearse.
[2] These are the current NHS dental charges in England. Under 18’s and some others pay nothing.
[3] Figure for 2009, for adults with some teeth, from the official Adult Dental Health Survey 2009.
[4] NHS web page Which dental treatments are available on the NHS?
[5] National Dental Care Expenditures 1960-2007 (USA); Total spending on UK dentistry increased by 4% to £6965 million and NHS Dental Statistics for England: 2009/10 (UK).

70 thoughts on “We British need not have bad teeth: The American way

  1. I read with interest your comment about what the NHS will and will not cover, and that those standards pretty much determine what your teeth look like.

    Here in the US, we have recently passed something commonly called Obamacare. It is supposed to give us better, cheaper medical care of all kinds. Many of us are hoping, praying, and working to get this monstrosity repealed.

    I expect you have heard about this before now, but just wanted to post it fyi in case you are wondering about this subject across the pond.

  2. Galveston, I have heard about “Obamacare”. Indeed I welcomed last year in a post Congratulations, USA, on healthcare reform. Since then I have learned more about the weaknesses of the specific scheme and understand the need to reform and improve it. However, I would consider it a complete blasphemy against the Christian God for anyone to PRAY(!) for repeal and so a return to “the scandal of the poor dying uncared for at the rich man’s gate”.

  3. You have been poorly informed.

    Over here, no one has been deprived of needed medical attention. There are various sources of help and if all else fails, no hospital can refuse to treat anyone, even illegal immigrants. Obamacare is scheduled to take $500 billion out of Medicare (seniors medical care) and transfer it to Medicade in an effort to put everyone on a single-payer system. There are horrible provisions in this bill, including various taxes that have nothing to do with medical care. Perhaps the most frightening thing is that doctors will have their pay severely cut, and many have already said they will retire or change professions. We barely have enough doctors for the patient load now. When we lose the (expected) 40% of doctors and add millions to the patient load, it will become impossible for some patients to receive treatment.

    And finally, we are broke and cannot afford the trillions this will cost this country. Our health system needs reforming, but Obamacare is not the answer. So I think it is OK to pray for its repeal.

  4. Well, Galveston, I hardly expected you to agree with me. But as I understand it “no one has been deprived of needed medical attention” used to apply only to emergency room care, not to care for life-threatening diseases like cancer. I would be happy to pray with you for reform of Obamacare, to overcome its weaknesses, but not for its repeal.

  5. I don’t know what your news source over there, but if it is telling you that Obamacare is a good law, then my gentle suggestion is that you incorporate some different news sources into the mix.

    Obamacare was written in secret without any input from Republicans who were excluded from the process. The only reason it passed was Democrat majorities in both houses. It is 2200+ pages long, and Speaker of the House (at the time), Nancy Pelosi said “We have to pass it so we can find out what is in it.” Unfortunately, that is not a joke, I heard her say it. As it stands, it will cost trillions of dollars that cannot be found, it will place the government in control of all health care, decide who gets treatment or not and reduce the number of doctors. Our old system did not decide whether grandma gets cancer treatment or not based on her age. Obamacare does.

    I realize that you live in a country that is already pretty socialistic, so may not think it is a big deal.

    There is one provision that imposes a 15% tax (I think that is the %) on your home when you sell it. What does that have to do with health care?

    I have heard that you have long wait times for many procedures over there. So far, over here, you can be seen in a timely manner.

    Trust me, no one here has been dying in the streets because no health care is available to them.

    Poor people have Medicade and SSI. Consider adding Fox News to your input.

    Blessings, and Maranatha

  6. Galveston, as I said, I would be very happy for the bill to be revised, and for the result truly to be as rosy as Fox News says the old system was like.

    Your old system decided whether grandma got her cancer care based on her bank balance and her luck with insurance companies. Is that more fair?

    Our system is not perfect either. But the long waits are only for non-urgent treatment, and are much shorter than they were a few years ago.

  7. Well, I’ve never heard Fox news personalities describe current health care as “rosy”, but Obamacare will cost unbelievable amounts of money without helping the situation. Both my father and my wife’s father died of colorectal cancer. Neither were wealthy and both got care under medicare. It didn’t save their lives though. Dad was 81 and my father-in-law was 83.

    Those praying for repeal of Obamacare are convinced that there are far better ways to overhaul the system, and in fact, candidates vying for the Republican nomination have advanced more than one plan to do that without nationalizing health care or breaking the bank. Obamacare is opposed by the majority of Americans. Stay tuned for further developments.


  8. Galveston, as I have said before, if a new President can put forward a better plan to replace Obamacare, I would be all in favour. What I oppose is a simple repeal of Obamacare and a return to the previous unsatisfactory situation.

    By the way I don’t trust Fox News. There is good evidence that News Corporation has a worldwide agenda which is threatened by Obama. And here in the UK its newspapers have been caught out using illegal telephone tapping to forward that agenda.

  9. According to a report in by Newsmax, the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) found that 97% of doctors treat medicade patients every day in their emergency departments because the patients can not find a doctor who will treat them for what medicade pays. They further state that Obamacare will result in more, not fewer emergency room visits.

    I have watched for decades as the news media in this country lied to us. They did not tell us lies, they just didn’t tell us the facts. They lied by omission. Fox news is the best we have here, all the others have forsaken honest journalism.

  10. Galveston, I don’t think I would trust any of the news media on an issue like this. They are all pursuing one agenda or another. But there must be another way to treat chronically ill patients than for them to visit the ER regularly. If Obamacare makes this problem worse, then it needs replacing with something that makes this problem better.

  11. I read the evolution vs creation blog. Same old never-ending argument there.
    I’m not too savvy on some of these posting things, yet. What did you want me to post where?

  12. If you doubt what I said about fluroide, do a web search on it. It is poison to the human body. The ONLY tooth benefit is when it is applied topically. I have read up on it because I have low thyroid function. I know one man who grew up in west Texas and his teeth are mottled by natural fluroide in the water. I seriously doubt if there is ANY safe level of this substance.

  13. Well, my dentist *** would say, “All they need to do is brush their teeth properly!”. Seriously, fluoride in the water and dental education is going to do a lot more good than the aftercare.

  14. H, are you aware that fluoride is a thyroid suppressant? We dump thyroid suppressant into the drinking water and then wonder why there is so much obesity. Check it out.

  15. H, I’m sure we would all have much better teeth with better care. Galveston, if what you say is true there is obviously a need for a proper balance of fluoride.

  16. Oh dear, that is weighing into a huge debate. The one thing any dentist will tell you though is that the volume of empirical evidence is hugely on the side of having a dose of fluoride in the water supplies. There are some studies against fluoride but scientifically these have been debunked. Sorry, you’re talking to a girl with perfect teeth due to fluoride tabs and a *** who is a dentist who had to research the subject.

  17. I am really sick of this type of article/debate, as it is just a stereotype! I know nobody will look at the links or believe them as it ruins the sense of superiority!




    Look at the above links as they are based on actual scientific fact rather than outdated racial stereotypes.

    British teeth were bad, but more for people born before 1960. In fact America’s children have nearly DOUBLE the rate of missing, decayed or filled teeth than British children.

    I know USA is a very vapid, image obsessed society where no celebrity on TV appears with any imperfection. However they are not representative of real society. Please watch old British sitcoms from the 1960’s in order to retain a sense of dental superiority.

    p.s. fluoridating the water is not necessary since there is enough in toothpaste already. After many European countries stopped fluoridating the water, decay rates remained stable.

    It is obvious Americans will have worse teeth as on average, you drink too many fizzy drinks and eat too poor a diet. This is why African rates of tooth decay are pretty low (despite them not going to see their dentist every 2 weeks at $1000 dollars a pop or whatever exorbitant prices are paid)!

    Also too many of you whiten your teeth beyond levels possible in nature. This is why you see normal teeth as unhealthy. This is what happens when you have privatised healthcare where big money is the goal. Dentists in USA tell people their teeth are terrible and need whitening etc to make more money, often when they do not even need the work.

  18. Simon, thank you for your interesting perspective on this. But it doesn’t actually contradict what I wrote. Yes, Americans’ teeth decay more than British ones, and I’m sure their diet is largely responsible. But the statistics show that, on average, they spend a lot more than Brits on repairing, replacing and whitening those bad teeth. And I would not dispute your suggestion that much of that spending is because dentists sell unnecessary work for their own profit.

  19. Dear Galveston,

    American politics never cease to amuse us Canadians. You envy our public health system and yet when your government tries to implement something similar, you brand it as socialist and fight tooth and nail against it. Die hard American capatilism has kept you in the dark ages; everything that to us is humane and a basic necessity is to you socialist and a luxury.


    Metric rules! Imperial drools.

  20. People fly in to Houston Medical Center every day from all over the world. Why would they do that? Could it be that the care there (and at other US cities as well) is superior to what they can get in their own countries, even though it may be free there?
    Obamacare is breaking down right now. I think it will be impossible to implement. I keep hearing doctors who will not accept its low payments and now there are hospitals that will not accept it.

    Enrollment in the plan is really low. Maybe it will get more numbers if (and that’s a big if) this incompetent government can ever get the web site working.

  21. Galveston, I’m sure no one would deny that the best of American medical care is very good (and very expensive), just as they would not deny that the richest of Americans are very rich. But the issue measured by statistics is the average medical care, the kind which the ordinary person can expect to enjoy. And, just as the average income of Americans is not the highest in the world, the average health care of Americans is not the best, but is in fact a long way down the list.

    The reason for that is simple. In the UK, for example, if people have a medical issue, they go to the doctor or the hospital, without worrying about what it will cost. It is not always free, but will never cost people more than they can afford, and it is free to the poor. In the USA, however, everyone first has to count the cost, and very many choose not to get treatment because they cannot afford it. That applies not only to those without insurance, but also to those with quite good insurance policies (Obamacare silver level and above) which still have substantial deductibles and co-pays. As a result many more people suffer from treatable but untreated sicknesses.

  22. We have not yet addressed the biggest problem with socialized medicine in our discussion. COST.
    Those who wrote that 2,000+ page monstrosity just assumed that young, healthy Americans would sign up and support the program, covering the gap that older people would pay vs what their care cost.
    It ain’t workin’! I was just listening to numbers, and people are flocking to stay away from Obamacare. If this trend does not change massively, even the nearly trillion dollars that the plan takes away from Medicare (what I am on) will not be enough to pay the bill.
    What then? More tax increases to make up the difference?
    We are looking at a shortage of doctors at the present level of population, not to speak of adding maybe 12 million illegals that will be covered.
    The train wreck will be spectacular. Keep watching.

  23. Galveston, I am not going to pretend that there are not massive problems with Obamacare. Many of them are to do with its cost, and many of them are the result of massive lobbying by the medical and insurance industries, whose short term advantage is in keeping the costs high.

    As for “people are flocking to stay away from Obamacare”, I suspect that it is more that people are waiting, at least until the website bugs are fixed and for many until the last moment, before the mandate kicks in. After all, whatever they think of it, most people believe in obeying the law.

    I know some of you are hoping for a spectacular train wreck on this and other aspects of Obama’s policies, just to spite a President you don’t like and have been trying to undermine ever since he was elected. Is the color of his skin anything to do with that? You don’t even consider how that train wreck will be just as disastrous for yourselves and for the whole of the country you profess to love. Instead, if you call yourself a Christian, shouldn’t you be praying for your President and seeking the best for him?

  24. I will answer your question last. I do pray for Obama every morning, along with several others. I pray that God will save their souls from Hell. I then pray that if they cannot give up their destructive agenda, that God will send them confusion, delusions, dissentions, discouragement and despondency. I further pray for the collapse of the Democrat Party, the defeat of them in the halls of Congress and at the polls.
    Now, lest you think me harsh, go online and read the platform of the Democrat Party. You will find it is positively anti-Christ. God was actually booed at their last convention.
    As to Obamacare, I think the number quoted as being without health insurance was about 15 million. We could have simply created something to help them get insured without disrupting our healt care system and at a fraction of the costs of Obamacare.
    Obamacare is like a Rube Goldberg arrangement. You remember? When a simple tube could roll a ball into a container, Goldberg designed whimsical machines that would do the same thing, only with a dozen or more ridiculous steps.
    You say you are a Christian. Would you vote Democrat if you were eligible? Would you vote for the murder of babies, the sodomization of this country and the forced redistribution of wealth? If so, you need to ask Jesus about that.

  25. Galveston, shame on you for praying “confusion, delusions, dissentions, discouragement and despondency” on your President! I am disgusted and appalled! Yes, pray for changes of policy if you like. But how you as a Christian should be praying for those in authority is outlined in 1 Timothy 2:1-4, where the “kings” mentioned are despotic dictators far worse than any American president. Where are we told to pray for “confusion, delusions, dissentions, discouragement and despondency” on those in authority? If this is the kind of prayer which is coming up from so many of those who are charged with interceding for our leaders, then no wonder the country is in such a mess!

    So you would have preferred a simple extension of Medicaid and/or Medicare to cover all the uninsured, paid for from taxes? So would I – perhaps with tax breaks for the insured so that people don’t give up their existing insurance. But, from what I understand, it was the health industry which wouldn’t allow that one. Who designed the Rube Goldberg machine? Not Obama. But actually Obamacare is not all that complicated. If you don’t want to use the bug-ridden website, go to your local pharmacy and you can buy your choice of compliant policy there, from any company which chooses to sell them.

    Meanwhile, if I had a vote, I would not use it on a party which perpetuates war, allows convicted criminals and known psychopaths to buy weapons of mass murder, and promotes policies which make the rich richer and the poor poorer. But I might vote for a party whose agenda aligns with the divine one:

    He has brought down rulers from their thrones
    but has lifted up the humble.
    53 He has filled the hungry with good things
    but has sent the rich away empty.
    Luke 1:52-53 (NIV)

  26. Paul tells us we war against princpalities. That means governments. Do you know that the Communist Party USA hasn’t fielded a candidate for several years now? The reason? The Democrats have incorporated all their issues in the DNC platform!
    I notice that you did not say you would vote Democrat. From your statement, you could not vote either Democrat or Republican.
    I am pleased to see that you COULD support a TEA Party candidate. Welcome to my world!

  27. I forgot to mention something.
    Obama is neither king nor dictator (I hope!). He is OUR EMLOYEE, and he is either monumentally incompetent or treasonous. Either way, he has no business being president of a free country. Was he elected by “we the people”? That is debatable. There was a lot of fraud by Dems in swing states. Some have even been prosecuted for it. If God in His Wisdom allowed Hussein to move into the Oval office, it was to bring His Church to prayer. Well, it is working.
    Please note that my first statement is that I pray daily for ALL these people that they will be saved.

  28. Galveston, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at your ignorance about communism, how totally different it is from Obama’s agenda.

    Roman emperors were also supposed to be elected and the servants of the people. Of course their elections were far less free and fair than any American one. But it would be very hard to find a significant difference of principle between their roles and that of a US President.

    No need to pray for Obama to be saved, he is already a baptized and genuinely believing Christian.

    I CERTAINLY could not support any Tea Party candidate, with anyone whose agenda is to fill the rich with good things but to send the hungry away empty. See this description of where their policies would lead: Haiti should not be the model for America’s future.

  29. ” If this is the kind of prayer which is coming up from so many of those who are charged with interceding for our leaders, then no wonder the country is in such a mess!” You DO realize that you are saying that God would honor an unrighteous prayer don’t you?

    How do you find these off-the-charts blog sites? Haiti a model for TEA partiers? You mean the Haiti dedicated to Satan?
    Wherever you are getting your information about the TEA party patriots, you need to change channels, because your view of us is as wrong as it can possibly be. We only want to get back to the principles spelled out in the US Constituion (in plain English) that made this country the envy of the whole world. For your information, the SCOTUS is supposed to check new laws to see if they conform to the Constitution, not “interpet” it. Maybe Jefferson should have written it in Latin? Like legal papers and prescriptions, you know, in a dead language? I hope no one will “interpet” any prescription of mine!

    The Bible tells me that all liars will have their part in the Lake of Fire, and Mr. Obama has proven over the past 5 years or so that he is a serial liar, water baptism notwithstanding. Why don’t you read his books to see what he really is?

  30. Yes, Galveston, I do believe that God sometimes honors unrighteous prayers, sometimes for the judgment of the people praying them. Remember Numbers 11, when God provided the meat that the people were craving for, but it also brought them a plague. If sinful people call down disaster on themselves, why should God not oblige? But this issue goes well off topic for this thread, which is supposed to be about health, not God.

    Beyond that, if this thread is coming down to calling people liars and predicting that they will not be saved, it is time to call a halt to it.

  31. Peter Kirk please excuse my fellow American Galvenston. People like him were silent during the 8 years that really ruined us and our reputation, yet went rabid once Obama set foot in office.

  32. There is only one real difference between British and American teeth and it has to do with attitude. The British think what’s in the grey matter in the head is infinitely more important than what shows when one opens one’s mouth; in other words the British prefer a head full of thought to a empty head and only care that the teeth do the jobs for which they are designed – bite and chew. The British also believe caring for one’s feet – hence the ease with which one can find a really good chiropodist (pedicurist) in Britain is more important than fiddling about with one’s teeth unnecessarily. Teeth can be replaced – feet can’t. The British on the whole prefer to spend time browsing in a bookstore or library or going for a long walk than sitting in a dentist’s chair.

  33. I was raised on a small farm eating what the land produced, drinking milk and river water.. The first time I used toothpaste and toothbrush was when I moved to the U.S. at age fourteen. (Galveston, don’t worry I am here legally.) The first time I visited a dentist was here in U.S. at age 15. The dentist was surprised that I had such a healthy set of teeth: no cavities or yellow teeth.

    I believe our diet plays a very important role. No matter where we live if we have healthy eating habits, we will have healthy teeth.

    For me, a healthy diet includes staying away from News Corporations.

  34. Olivia, thank you. That makes sense. I agree about news corporations but I feel much the same about food corporations, it’s the food they produce that rots our teeth and the rest of our bodies.

  35. seriously are you actually British, because you are just reinforcing negative perceptions about your own country. Rarely do British people ever smile just a frown or a blank expression, but americans are always smiling …….sure?. I’m trying to understand what your purpose of writing this article was. Are you bitter about something. Most of your other posts seem to say your a christian. So why then did you feel the desire to post this. It’s not religion related at all. I’m thinking maybe you should leave your homeland, if your so appalled by your fellow citizen’s, supposed yellow crooked teeth. We all know America is a country full of people with perfectly straight white teeth no yellow or crooked teeth there. Even regular nobodies have hollywood smiles that they flash constantly. You have an extremely shallow view of your own country and the world which is surprising but …. kind of isn’t considering you call yourself a christian.

  36. Lazereyez, yes, I am a Christian, and British. That doesn’t mean that I am allowed to blog only about issues related to my faith, or for that matter only positively about my compatriots. I write here about what I choose. I had my reasons for posting this, which was intended as the start of a series which I never continued.

    Of course there is much more to a country than what teeth look like. Indeed one of my issues with Americans is that they are too concerned with appearances rather than deeper matters. But this page is intended to explain why appearances are also important.

    Anyway, your wish has already been granted: since writing this, I have moved from the UK to the USA.

  37. Hi,

    My Grandmother is from Ireland and I’ve been to many different countries
    in Europe and the one thing I couldn’t stop thinking of was, why do so many
    people have teeth problems??? Thank you for writing your post, it was very informative and the best answer I have seen so far. You are very frank and honest about the facts which I appreciate.

  38. Hello All! Who knew a discussion about dental care in the US/UK would spark such a debate about Obama?!
    Yes, I too am no fan of Obama either, but my comment is about teeth.
    After reading this blog, I sat down and calculated how much I spent at my dentist since April of 2014. I have just recently had A LOT of work done and have received beautiful crowns and veneers. Ready for this “cute” figure? $7,500 (isn’t that approx £10,000 in Britain as of this date?)!!! I have had insurance for part of that, but I have what is almost the standard dental insurance that most other Americans have that have dental ins; it covers $1,500.00 per year max…but it divides that amount out to cover specific procedures. So my insurance covered about $1000 spread out over those different procedures (the dental ins is through Mercedes-Benz US Int’l…which equals good ins). So shelling out approx $6500 has NOT been fun! I wish our dental ins would work more like our medical ins does. Meaning, pay an appropriate co-pay and no “$1,500 Cap.”
    Lord if I had to give a figure amount of the last 5 years of dental bills, let’s just say I could purchase a nocw new car…LOL!
    As for the medical insurance debate, for me I am quite happy with private-pay/company contributing ins. Sorry, but if I want and/or need a CT Scan or MRI, I want the ability to get it right then- not months later. However, to each his own and everyone is entitled to their own opinions!
    Y’all have a great Saturday!

  39. I pay 400$ a month for insurance for me and my son here in the USA. I’d rather go without but would be penalized by the government

  40. Obamacare is the biggest fraud insurance scam.In general you have to spend 3000 before anything is free and it is going up 40% this year.I think it will eventually be a choice to use it only if you want.We don’t have it here in Texas but some states do have it.
    Here in American children,pregnant women and old people get free Medicaid.Everyone else basically pays for there own insurance or goes to a cash doctor or your state may have a program.In American if a child has crooked teeth that is not acceptable and and will be covered by most all insurance or the dentist will find away for the problem to be covered.
    I notice Brits have a lot of crooked teeth smiles because there free provided insurance won’t cover it and they don’t want to come out of pocket.It is more excepted there.If you have a child with crooked teeth in the states they would get ridiculed on a daily basis.A parent will take a loan against there home if they had too its super high on a parents priority list.

  41. Marie, again I don’t want this to become a discussion of Obamacare or health insurance in general. But your last two sentences here get to the heart of the issue. Children’s teeth are a priority for parents in USA to an extent that they are not in UK.

  42. Just revisiting this page and would like to say I hope you are enjoying yourself here in the States Peter Kirk.I really hope the people of this country have taken you in kindly and that you feel welcomed here.

  43. Same here A Listener. I was revisiting it as well (Amanda from Alabama). Peter, I hope you and your wife are happy in the US and feel very welcome indeed! Have a great Sunday evening- Amanda from Alabama?

  44. Average middle class Americans have to spend a 3 grand deductible before anything is covered.The poor get Medicaid like they always have..Obama Care has made no difference.We are hoping that it will be replaced with a federal insurance that you can choose to buy and clinics built in every state that will be there to service the insurance(In a perfect world).
    Most generally healthy Americans go to clinics that have Nurse Practitioners and pay out of pocket.
    Teeth and feet are a big deal in America.We even have doctors to correct the bones in your feet.

  45. Thank you, Amanda.

    Marie, indeed there are all kinds of doctors in America, for people who have a lot of money or the very best insurance. Most of them won’t even see people with only Obamacare insurance.

  46. Gladt to here you and your wife are adjusting well here Peter in the States. As an U.S. born proper, it is almost sacred Duty to make sure our Cousins are well looked after here in this Literal ONE Nation sized Continent. We love our Cousins. A great Pond cannot seperate US/UK love.

  47. Here it is 2016 and we are still alive with Obamacare! Will wonders ever cease? I love watching british tv and movies and documentaries. I am always amazed how people from all walks of life have a lack of dental hygiene. I also notice that many people in the south in the states and Australia are also branded with bad teeth. Could it be that they share genes with brits? I am in no way a prude and admire british people but I would be revulsed to see some of the mouths i see in media. I could imagine there would be a stench as well. I read that people with nice teeth are more successful. I was born without about 4 of my adult teeth. When it was time for them to come in the lack of them made the other teeth spread and make huge gaps. I would never smile and felt bad about myself. No one can tell another person to buck up and live with it. Doesn’t work. Anyway after years of this. I spent over $100000 to have a perfect smile. I had braces, general surgery to adjust my jaw bone to accomidate the treatment(this was the biggest cost) a bridge, they pulled 4 teeth for their plan and replaced them with implants plus 4 more implants. 6 veneers and I smile all the time. I put my head back and laugh hearty. I smile at people and they can not help but smile right back. I am treated better. It goes on and on. The money? Hey it was worth every penny. If I am not worth $100000 to feel good then I do not know who else. Most english people I have seen with crooked teeth are no worse than mine were except mine were white and healthy. I know most cannot afford what I did. But people like Victoria Beckham and Elton John can yet they do not. Why? I think Americans take the lead if our entertainers. Brits have very slim pickins when it comes to teeth role models.

  48. Karen, thank you for your comment. I am pleased that your teeth were sorted out and this has helped your confidence. This clearly involved a lot of time and pain as well as money, and that may be another reason why some people choose not to undergo similar work. It is all a matter of choosing priorities, even for those with money. Basically British and American priorities are different, and that is OK. But I hate to hear of when people, like you at one time, are shamed for the appearance they were born with.

  49. Bertrand: “You envy our public health system”

    This is the source of your confusion. Anyone with sufficient means travels to the United States to have their healthcare performed. While we struggle with the cost of healthcare in our country, the destitute need not go without care here, and a healthy dose of that cost is due to the need for someone, globally, to actually pay for the research and design. Our own portion of single-payer healthcare (Medicare/Medicaid) pass expense to those outside of those cost mandates, as do all of the impoverished nations whose medications are subsidized by Americans.

    Americans are inclined to pay more for a product that we feel is superior. Many more of us are divided on picking up the tab for healthcare for the destitute in other countries, but at this point I think there are better targets for austerity. As a Canadian, though, you should dread the day that our medicine becomes socialized, because yours will suffer as a result.

  50. I enjoyed your blog on British teeth, but disagree with your position on the health care systems in both the UK and the US. Although you might be satisfied with the NHS, those on the political right generally think it to be misguided. They believe a free-market-based system would deliver higher quality care at lower cost to your country as a whole. I realize you might still object to the free market even if you stipulate this point because the poor won’t be able to afford it. If so, then the argument comes down to what to do to help the poor. There are many like you who believe the government should step in to help. Others like me believe it’s immoral for the government to do this. The government has no money other than what it collects in taxes, which is money forcibly taken from its citizens. We should remember that the government can do this because it’s the only institution in a position to exercise violence to implement its goals. Although it’s a highly worthy and charitable act to cure the impoverished, I fail to see the moral justification in forcing fellow citizens to engage in this act — however charitable it may be.

  51. I hope you do learn a lot while you are here in the states. I for one, have average medical insurance through my employer, but barely use it. I would like to get a colonoscopy, but it would cost me almost $2,000. My sister and I say we are ‘insurance poor’. We pay a monthly deductible, but can’t afford much more. I mainly want my healthcare for emergencies only…. The more I learn, though, the more I don’t want my insurance. Big pharma is bankrupting this country and Americans aren’t even noticing they are being to taken to slaughter…. is unbelievable that people aren’t waking up. You talk about the rich vs. the poor – well the poor will be healthier if they stay away from our health care. Fluoride in our water is a problem, but Americans chose to believe that it helps their teeth (while ruining our thyroids). We are brainwashed to think our healthcare system is good and that the FDA and CDC have our best interests at heart. I for one, chose to go to doctors outside of my insurance….. doctors who question what they’ve been taught in medical school and believe we Americans need to change our diets. Obama isn’t stupid, he knows that there is a brand new drug store on every corner (thanks to all the pharmaceuticals American’s are led to believe they need to stay alive) and Obama’s administration wanted a piece of the pie. You can believe he is a good person, but I agree with Galveston. I am a Christian, too, and now that you are living here in the US, maybe you will see the light……. a pretty smile can be deceiving. ; ) BTW, the color of his skin has nothing to do with it – I would vote for Ben Carson and I wish Colin Powell would have run for president! They have integrity……

  52. BTW, Simon – I agree with everything you have to say – EXCEPT that you don’t realize the insurance companies have gotten involved in American’s healthcare and they are taking a piece of the pie. And the FDA gets their piece of the pie (they get a $ kickback on all prescriptions sold in America) and now Obamacare wants a piece of the pie (do we think there isn’t a cost involved to add another level of administration to oversee this new program?). And you think it is the greed of doctors in this country? I want to pay insurance and have the option to go to the doctor of my choice! I finally realized that I was causing my own healthcare problems and that a pill wasn’t going to fix it…… but please don’t be confused with what is going on here in America. yes, there are some real problems pertaining to greed (in every aspect of society, especially healthcare), but putting our government in charge of healthcare wouldn’t solve our problems.

  53. Watch the documentary ‘Second Opinion’ and tell me you want to be treated by an American doctor for cancer….. be thankful you’re not an American. Our fluorinated water is making us fat and lowering our IQs. Amalgam fillings and vaccinations are causing metal toxicity and poisoning our children, yet we still chose to believe the media that they don’t harm us. Mental illness is at an all time high (no one wants to talk about that). Socialized medicine isn’t going to solve our problems – we need an overhaul of our medical schools on what they are teaching our dentists/doctors!!! Stupidity is the biggest problem in this country, not greed.

  54. Liz, I now strongly sympathize with you. I am realizing now how badly the US health system is distorted by the profit motive, and I avoid doctors as much as I can. I am glad that we can drink and bathe in water without fluoride, because we have our own well. I’m not sure what the answer is, but something like the British NHS (before Cameron’s government started to sell it off for profit) would be a lot better, though not perfect. Maybe we can look for a President Sanders to move in that direction.

  55. When I used Obummercare I didn’t have a premium but I had to pay a lot out of pocket for any normal doctors appts because the “copays” I made went straight to the deductible. So I never got a benefit from using the insurance. Because of OC my doctor closed his private practice and joined a group. So he had to follow the groups rules instead of providing care the way he knew best. I even decided to use RX outreach and Wal-Mart (Not insurance) for prescriptions because it was too expensive to use OC. I couldn’t get normal routine testing exams because the out of pocket went to deductible instead of getting any benefit.
    Its a terrible health program.
    When I didn’t have insurance I would get a discount from my primary doc which ended up being less than insurance co-pay. One of my specialists who had his own practice wouldn’t charge me at all and write it off. I could also get medications free from the manufacturer. Now that we are forced to get insurance I can’t afford my care. You get fined hundreds of dollars for not having insurance.
    The care is worse, personalization of care is worse, fewer doctors, for working people with insurance through their employer the premiums went waaaay up to cover OC. Its bad all around. Id rather have the old system.

  56. Oh, another thing. The hospital 2 miles from my house will NOT take any Obummercare insurance. When I had OC I would have had to go to a hospital 1 hr away, even if I had to go to the ER, have mammogram, blood tests or any hospital/lab procedure. The reason that my hospital wouldn’t take OC? They refuse to pay the insurance claim for normal routine procedures, or medically necessary care!!!!
    Dental care? With OC you pay out of pocket for the cost of the routine cleaning or fillings. With private/employer insurance… no cost!!

  57. Jellybean, thank you for your observations, and sorry to be slow responding. I accept that there are all sorts of issues with Obamacare, which was a difficult compromise between different vested interests. I also suspect that your difficulties are as much to do with an unfortunate choice of insurance provider and policy as with the principle of Obamacare. We recently moved to a new provider which is much more flexible about what doctors we can use. But I would like to see Obamacare replaced with a proper single payer health system.

  58. hello everyone am here to share my testimony on how my daughter was saved from tooth pain
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