On a lighter note: British dentistry in crisis! (No, really.)

| Mon Mar. 21, 2005 2:20 PM EST

"There is no dentistry crisis, [British health] minister insists"

The Onion? Austin Powers? No, sadly, the above is a headline from today's London Guardian. Turns out there's a shortage of dentists in Britain such that less than half the population is registered with one. For for those of us British expatriates who've labored, by example and argument, to combat the widely shared idea that Brits are dentally challenged -- well, let's just say this development sets us back years.

"We are bringing in 1,000 dentists between now and the autumn," [said the British health minister.] We are at this moment negotiating with the British Dental Association an improved contract to bring dentists back into the [National Health Service].

"We're encouraging retired dentists to come out of retirement and join the NHS again, so we are actually taking action at this moment to try to solve this problem. We accept there is a serious problem and intend to put it right."

While they wait for aged dentists to dust off the old drill, and younger ones to be recruited, authorities in Scotland are handing out free toothpaste and toothbrushes to children. Oh, the shame!