Lately some people have been doing some pretty strange things to their teeth. The bizarre trend of celebrities “accessorizing” their smile is fueling an increasing popularity and growing following in popular culture.
The problem with accessorizing teeth is that it can have unintentional consequences. Sometimes these complications are immediate; sometimes it just sets you up for future problems. Common examples of extreme dentistry include widening gaps and, of course, adding bling. Call me old school but I think the best accessory is a clean, natural, beautiful smile.
Some highlights of the more unorthodox tooth accessories we found:
There are many celebrities today who stand by their gapped-tooth smile without hesitation like Madonna, David Letterman, and Anna Paquin, star of HBO’s True Blood series.
A gap between two front teeth is called diastema, and most people will see me to close the gap, not to open it. To close spaces between teeth dentists typically use veneers, bonding, orthodontics and sometimes a combination of these. In the Fall of 2010, Tyra Banks asked a contestant on her reality TV show The Next Top Model to widen the space between her two front teeth so that she would resemble 70s model icon, Lauren Hutton. The young contestant, so enamored with Banks, had her dentist irreversibly remove some enamel from in between her 2 front teeth.
The Problem: To achieve a wider gap, dentists can choose orthodontics or removing healthy tooth structure. Orthodontics can take a while since spreading 2 front teeth apart only works if all of the teeth are moved to avoid overcrowding of your side or back teeth. Because of the cost and time involved orthodontics is usually not done for this purpose. A tattoo is “permanent” but if needs be, it can be removed. Shaving off enamel or reducing healthy teeth is also permanent – it can only be “covered up” with veneers or bonding if you change your mind later. Although many times in the course of dental treatment we need to reduce healthy enamel for a specific medical/dental reason I am inclined to advise against this type of enamel reduction without a good reason to do so.
Fangs or Reshaping
Actress Kirsten Dunst had to bond her canines to make fangs when she won her first major motion picture role beside Brad Pitt in An Interview with a Vampire. When the shooting was done Dunst decided to keep her pointy canines saying “they give me character.” I can excuse the fangs if you happen to be a vampire, but lately more and more people are choosing to have their teeth bonded and shaped to resemble fangs.
Some blame the Twilight movie series; others a resurgence of interest in fantasy films and books. Some 30 years ago one of my dad’s dental assistants (he was a dentist!) asked me to bond her canines into fangs for Halloween. I told her I would, but that I must remove it on November 1st. She lived in the fast lane and she did not let me take them off afterward. I have never forgotten this.
The Problem: Altering or reshaping healthy teeth for no justifiable medical or dental reason is never a good idea. Assuming that no enamel has been removed and only composite has been bonded to the teeth, the procedure is easily reversible. But if you also reshaped your enamel (you only get so much! Your teeth can be left sensitive to hot and cold temperatures and possibly more decay prone depending on the amount of enamel removed. And if you should change your mind later it could be extremely costly to bring your old smile back.
The Bling Factor
More than a few musicians and celebrities have accessorized their teeth with removable “grills” decked out with bling including gold, jewels and even diamonds To meet the growing popularity of grills, D-I-Y kits are available to bejewel teeth at home. The grills are simply glued to the bottom or top front teeth and I am told they can be removed .
The problem: These silver, gold or jewel encrusted removable fronts worn across the upper or lower teeth can be problematic. If worn for a long period of time or if rarely cleaned these accessories will harbor bacteria and result in cavities around your grill. (We also see this complication around braces in folks going through orthodontics.) As in tongue or lip rings, if the sensitive oral tissues are scuffed or traumatized by the metal infections are likely since our mouths are home to so many microorganisms.
At Dr. Mark W Langberg, DDS, MAGD, PC , we know for a fact that the best accessory you can wear is a gorgeous healthy smile. Fashion trends will come and go, but your individual unique smile should last your entire life! To keep it looking its best, be sure to call us at 248-356-8790, and discover the difference a great dentist makes!
Mark W Langberg, DDS, MAGD
Your Southfield Family Dentist
Tel: (248) 356-8790