Forks are for Eating: Dental Hygiene Across the Pond
From Austin Powers to The Simpsons, American pop culture has heckled the British for their allegedly bad teeth for years. Let's face it - even Prince Charles could use a good orthodontist. Now it looks like comedians will have fresh material, thanks to a national survey that polled Brits on their dental habits.
An overwhelming number of respondents admitted to cleaning their teeth with just about everything but floss, opting for everyday household tools instead. Nontraditional tooth picks included: screw drivers, earrings, forks, scissors and (wait for it) knives. (Maybe they should consider putting restrictions on the use of ice picks.) To top it off, about half reported they don't bother cleaning food out from between their teeth at all. Yikes! Needless to say the English dental community has admittedly fallen behind in dental education.
While it's easy to laugh at our friends across the pond, the truth is a number of Americans aren't doing much better when it comes to oral hygiene. Gum disease and tooth decay are two potentially serious conditions frequently overlooked by the American press. (Maybe they're too busy critiquing jolly England's smiles.) They are also linked to other health problems, including heart disease and low birth weight.
In order to maintain your own oral health, it's important to brush and floss everyday. If you find particularly tricky debris stuck between your teeth, skip using your PDA's stylus to dig it out. Your best option is a wood (and therefore flexible) tooth pick or dental ribbon, which is smoother than floss. Tying a small knot in it can help dislodge larger pieces of food.
So, the next time you hear somebody crack a joke at the queen's expense, consider your own flossing habits. And for Pete's sake, never use anything to clean your teeth and gums that wasn't designed for that purpose!
DR. GARY SIGAFOOS