In a couple of weeks my wife and I will be knee-deep in Calpol and doing our best to fend off the poisonous glares of our fellow passengers as we ferry our seven-month-old baby boy across the ocean to spend Thanksgiving with my sister and her family. Given that my son is still gummy, hasn't yet finished the process of teething and may not be the most popular person on board our plane, he will be at a distinct advantage when it comes to meeting his American relatives for the first time. This is, of course, because Americans regard the majority of British teeth in the same way as they would a drag queen in the White House – off colour, offensive and definitely not straight.
And despite the fact that my son hasn't chewed anything of note apart from the TV remote control, he still beats his old man. You see, my son's mouthful of moist gums is still a better smile than the dreadful mess I sport, which is also thrown into stark relief by my wife's resolutely un-British gnashers: white and lovely and uniform and essentially the way they are meant to be. Unlike mine. And that may or may not be because I am Scottish.
I only mention teeth because of the recent survey or dental costs by the private healthcare website WhatClinic.com. The study, which polled more than 12,000 dentists across the United Kingdom, found that the cost of your dental treatment was inextricably bound to your postcode. In Birmingham, the average private dental check-up costs just £31. The same treatment in Milton Keynes will set you back £62.
At the other end of the spend spectrum, you will find Britain's cheapest root canal treatment (now there is a pleasant way to spend an hour or two) in Glasgow, where it costs £185. The most expensive root treatment can be had in York, for a lip-pursing £356.
Now, personally I don't believe that Glasgow having the cheapest root canal treatment means that my compatriots should have the healthiest teeth in the kingdom. Nope, I would suggest that root treatment is so cheap in the west of Scotland because dentists can afford to knock the prices down, given that they have a queue of tooth-sore punters stretching out of the door and reaching halfway to the nearest sweetie shop.
But perhaps I am doing Glasgow a disservice. In the years since I lived there, perhaps dentists have stopped offering a plastic cup of Irn-Bru for patients to rinse their mouth out. Perhaps my bad teeth are, as I have secretly long suspected, down to genetics. While my dad had a splendid set of strong, white chompers, my mum (God rest her soul) would be the first to admit that her teeth were not for close inspection. So my sister got my dad's teeth and I got my mum's. Hardly fair, given that my sister moved to the US when she was 21. I should have had the benefit of their spectacularly good dental care. She didn't even need it!
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