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Don't Eat With Your Mouth Full

Where can we live but days?

steepholm steepholm
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So, anyway, here are my teeth, slightly out of focus (which some might think a mercy).


In their delicate yellowness (coffee not nicotine) and lack of uniformity they conform quite well to the American stereotype of English teeth. I haven't made a proper study of the matter, but I'd guess that in general the stereotype is correct, and that English people's teeth are a bit skewiff - certainly those of my generation and up. I can't say this bothers me greatly - or at all, in fact.

What puzzles me though is this. If Americans' teeth are generally straighter, it isn't because they grow that way naturally. No, it's because Americans go to orthodontists for cosmetic treatment. That's fine, of course, but what I find strange is the extent to which this particular form of cosmetic treatment has assumed the force of a cultural obligation in the USA. By contrast, while lots of people get nose jobs and face lifts and Botox, I haven't noticed a general open jeering at people (let alone nations) who don't (which isn't of course to say that some narrower social groups don't come under pressure to get those treatments too). When it comes to teeth, though, it seems there's a widespread sense that not to get one's teeth "fixed" is eccentric, risible, almost perverse.

Well, that's the way it looks to me from this side of the Atlantic, anyway, but I suspect I'm getting a very partial picture, given that so much of what I see is through the prism of the entertainment industry and is heavily skewed (far more than my teeth) in terms of race and class. Still, in so far as there's any truth to this picture, I wonder why the attitude to this particular form of cosmetic treatment differs from attitudes to the rest?

I had braces and it did help (I had a pretty severe overbite) but they didn't straighten completely, because my mouth is too small for all the teeth. So I have crooked teeth AND braces, woohoo! ;) I also had oral surgery, because of an impacted tooth hiding out above the gumline. It looks kind of like a little fang now.

Mostly I wanted to say I know what you mean about the things dentists say. When the orthodontist gave up and took my braces off at 17 (by which point my teeth had already started moving back, even with the metal bits on them), and around the time I had the surgery at 15, in both cases someone said things like 'when you're older, you can have the surgery to straighten them'. And I remember thinking, I just went through surgery on my mouth and it sucked, why on earth would I want to do it again? My teeth are crooked, but so is my smile, and it's not like they HURT.

I stand by this. I did want to be an actress for a while, at which point I suppose I would have come up against needing to straighten them the rest of the way, but I can't say I've ever been that worried about it otherwise.