What our teeth say about class, beauty standards and health care in the U.S.

A close up of a gloved hand brushing fluoride in a child's mouth.
Brandon Billman, 6, has fluoride brushed onto his teeth by Minnesota State University senior Megan Dalueg at the Give Kids A Smile event on Oct. 15, 2020 in Mankato, Minn.
Jackson Forderer for MPR News 2020

When you look in the mirror at your smile, what do you see? Do you see straight, white teeth, perfected by years of braces and retainers? Are your teeth a little crooked? Do you have gaps or maybe a few missing?

What our teeth look like can say a lot about class, wealth and beauty standards in the United States. About 60 million Americans live in areas with a shortage of dental care, and access to oral health care largely depends on economic status.

MPR News host Angela Davis discussed who can and cannot access oral health care in our country, and why Americans are so obsessed with perfect pearly whites.


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Use the audio player above to listen to the full conversation.

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