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American teeth: A national obsession not shared by the Irish?

One look at your teeth, and Irish will know if you're American

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American teeth: A national obsession not shared by the Irish?

“You can tell Americans,” my Irish friend told me in the pub one night. “they look different, and not just the way they dress. It’s the features. Even if you put an Irish person in American clothes I could tell. And the teeth. Like you, you have very American teeth.”

I’m not sure he’s entirely right by all accounts but I suppose there are certain differences in appearance and features. Americans do seem slightly obsessed with very straight, very white teeth, while people in the Ireland and the U.K. in general seem less inclined to have such fixations.

Strangely enough my dentist seemed concerned when I told him I was moving to Ireland. He gave me an extra toothbrush and instructed me to make sure to floss.

The care of my teeth was one of my least concerns when moving here. That was of course until I began to have an extreme sensitivity to hot and cold in one of my back teeth. Soon it became a bit painful to chew. I assumed I was stressed out and grinding my teeth at night. Then one night, while flossing, as instructed, a chunk of what looked like tooth, came flying out.

Turned out a porcelain crown my American dentist had put on had cracked in half. Of course, it had to happen in a foreign country. Then there was the Irish factor. Not that I honestly believed that dental care was bad in Ireland but my dentist’s reaction, in combination with my Irish friend’s comment made me think that it might be a bit dodgy.

Turned out the female dentist was quite nice, very professional and seemed to do a great job. Other than her excessive use of the word “wee” as in, “you’ll just feel a wee pinch now,” the experience was hardly different from a visit to my American dentist.

Dental hygiene aside, there is a considerable difference in clothing, that I think, makes Americans particularly identifiable. It’s not necessarily that the styles are so different exactly just that most younger college students in Ireland seem to have an obsession with skinny jeans and Ugg boots with long tops. This is a popular style in America as well though I’m not sure it’s so prevalent that it’s become a uniform.

Your average American college student is more likely to stumble into class in sweatpants or pajamas, looking like they just rolled out of bed whereas Irish students seem more inclined to make themselves presentable, even wearing dresses and jewelry to class with their make-up and hair done.

Putting even small clothing differences aside, there is an overall difference in attitude that is reflected in the way Americans carry themselves. In class, for instance, Americans are much more inclined to disagree with the professor, raise various points and in general, take pleasure in hearing themselves talk. Irish students seem to take it all in and take some prodding to elicit comments, even though they know the answers.

All things considered, it is pretty easy to spot a fellow American in Dublin, even before hearing him or her talk. In a pub the other night, my friend and I were approached by an American from Texas who, hearing us talk, determined that we were Americans. His t-shirt and overall appearance screamed Texas, all that was missing was the cowboy hat.

Texas guy soon launched into a description of his plan to open a place to sell Beef Jerkey in Dublin. Throughout his travels in Ireland he had yet to encounter Beef Jerkey. The Irish would love it, he said. It would be so easy, just buy a dehydrator and you’d be all set. Nevermind the fact that Beef jerky may not be a big seller. He’d make a million. What could be more American than that? 

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