If I say “British teeth”, what image pops into your head? Maybe an Austin Powers’ bucktoothed grin, deep yellow and full of spaces? Now that cultural stereotype may or may not be deserved, but the cultural standard for excellent teeth varies greatly from time and place.
For example, the practice of filing one’s teeth into sharp points like a piranha’s was common in Vietnam, Sudan, and amongst the Aborigines. The Mayans did the same thing, sometimes adding carved designs and jewels to their teeth to distinguish the rich from the poor. In the early 1900’s in Japan, it was fashionable for women to dye their teeth jet black. And speaking of using tooth dye, some viking warriors filed horizontal lines into their front teeth and filled them with red dye to terrify their enemies.
But before we modern people pat ourselves on the back for abandoning such practices, sharply filed teeth are still a sign of beauty in some small Indonesian villages, hip hop aficionados love sporting gold and jewel encrusted “grills,” and young Japanese women are now paying to have crooked fangs attached to their canines.
So what is “The American Smile?” (Google it; it’s actually a thing.) Thankfully, we’re known for our white, straight teeth and great big smiles. Now you can pat yourself on the back.
The famous Simpsons clip with Ralfie at the Dentist gives a chuckle . . . or a shudder. Hope it gives you a reason to smile today!