The New York Times reports:
Previously unreleased figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that in 2003 and 2004, the most recent years with data available, 27 percent of children and 29 percent of adults had cavities going untreated. The level of untreated decay was the highest since the late 1980s and significantly higher than that found in a survey from 1999 to 2002.
It's hard to think of a more obvious class signifier than bad teeth, especially as it grows more difficult to distinguish between income levels by other superficialities like dress. You can't buy a knock-off set of incisors at H&M. And given the correlations between physical attractiveness and financial success, a British smile is likely to reinforce crippling structural inequalities poor kids already face. For this they can thank the dental cartel:
Despite the rise in dental problems, state boards of dentists and the American Dental Association, the main lobbying group for dentists, have fought efforts to use dental hygienists and other non-dentists to provide basic care to people who do not have access to dentists.
Meanwhile, the A.D.A. does not support opening new dental schools or otherwise increasing the number of dentists. The association says it sees no nationwide shortage of dentists, though it acknowledges a shortage in rural areas. Dentists note that in the early 1980s, when schools were graduating nearly twice as many dentists relative to the overall size of the population as they are now, some dentists struggled to keep their practices afloat.
So back when the licensing system was liberal enough to force dentists to compete for patients, some of those dentists "struggled." Sorry kids, we can't have that.