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Beauty & Teeth

I went to the dentist recently and it's significant since I have the weakest teeth of anyone I know. My dentist and I go wayyy back! The minute I had all my adult teeth, I had a continuous cavity problem. I was a teenager when I had my first root canal. My worst dental moment? When I was 13, I chipped my two front teeth off on my friend's bathroom sink. When my teeth were repaired, it was suggested that my diastema, or natural gap, be sealed up for aesthetic reasons.






Age 11 or 12: Living large with my (multiple!) diastemas.

Since then, my mind's completely changed about my gap. By getting older, attending university, and living independently, I realized that I have different notions of beauty than my community, my parents, and my peers. When I see pictures of gap toothed beauties like Lara Stone and Georgia Jagger, I think they look absolutely gorgeous. The trendiness of this natural feature aside, I started to feel as if my smile didn't feel like "me" somehow. In New Age-y terms, my gap-less grin didn't quite match up with my essential self. I didn't recognize my smile when I looked in the mirror.

No gap.
When I was at the dentist's office, I asked him to restore my central gap. My front teeth are mostly constructed out of direct bonding material so it's a relatively easy, quick procedure.  He was shocked. He explained that people came in all the time to have theirs sealed up and that most people prefer to "blend in". He told me that he'd originally closed six gaps throughout my teeth and that I definitely wouldn't want to undo them all. For a minute, I started to second guess myself; had my instincts misled me? Then I saw my unbonded teeth and I felt tremendously relieved! When I got home, I instantly put on a bright red lipstick to celebrate my newly recovered space.

According to Wikipedia, French people call them "dents du bonheur" or lucky teeth.

I love my new teeth. The gap is narrower that my natural one, but the difference has made me ecstatic.  This dental saga has reminded me of the discussions surrounding breast reductions and augmentations. I've heard women say that their original breast size didn't match up with how they saw themselves and they were happy with the surgical opportunities available. I've grown to love the size of my chest, but I realize that many full busted women feel as if their size doesn't reflect who they are. For a long time, it was hard for me to suspend judgement. When I was unhappy with my shape, I thought breast reductions were a relief and I wondered why all busty ladies didn't explore the option. Now, I can't imagine my chest any smaller and often consider how unnecessary that procedure would've been for me.

Since notions of beauty are singularly unique and deeply personal to each individual, it's dangerous to make blanket judgements about a particular decision or appearance. It's additionally challenging not only to realize what you find beautiful, but to discover that your understanding of beauty might differ dramatically from other people's. I'm delighted with my diastema, but I'm sure my dentist was left wondering why I'd enthusiastically choose this look. I also love tattoos. Big, dramatic eyebrows! Prominent noses! In my ideal world, everyone would agree with me. However, I'd pretty sure that would make my perfect world a total snoozefest. After all, the differences in perspective add a beauty all their own.

Alright, I'm curious: what do you think is beautiful? For yourself? For others? Has anyone ever openly disagreed with you?

9 Comments

  1. Awesome post Cece! Your gap (that is your photo, yeah?) looks beautiful! Especially with the lipstick emphasizing the shape of your mouth. I've always had crooked teeth and it's never bothered me. I like my little, overlapping teeth and my pointy canines. I have fangs! I was so relieved when the orthodontist said that although I probably should get braces I didn't have to.

    Having a shaved head, not shaving my legs and wanting to stop shaving my armpits (but too scared) has been part of a progression of exploring beauty on my part. I've always had fairly different tastes to most people in the rural community I live in, and as I get older I'm making a conscious decision to find different things beautiful. Body hair, for example, is not something that I instinctively find beautiful (not surprising considering how conditioned we are to hate it) but I'm actively working to find it so because a world where hairiness is loved or totally not a big deal is one that appeals to me.

    Long hair being the default beautiful state for hair really bothers me, because it's usually fairly obvious to me when long hair doesn't actually suit a person. Fine and dandy if they don't care anyway, but when I get told I'm hotter with long hair - when clearly having short hair shows off my pretty face much better - I get annoyed at a standard of beauty that is based on conformity rather than real aesthetic appeal.

    Bla bla bla, rant over! You are beautiful :)

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  2. Great post!

    I have a very small gap between my front teeth that a dentist offered to fix a few years ago, but I declined. I figured it was meant to be, it wasn't really bothering me in any way, and if it did become part of a bigger concern for some reason, I would revisit the issue.

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  3. I think your smile is beautiful! In Japan, having a gap-tooth smile is actually considered very desirable. And Anna Paquin of True Blood/X-Men fame also has a gap in her tooth. I have a very tiny gap myself, that I actually wish was more prominent.

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  4. Aww, this post made me feel warm and fuzzy. I've always had a gap in my front teeth. I actually had braces for a year while a teenager, but since the dentist didn't clip the frenulum in my upper lip, it reappeared fairly quickly. I've gone back and forth whether to have it permanently fixed or not, but in the end, and at the age of 34, I've realized it really doesn't matter whether I have "perfect teeth" or not. They're mine.

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  5. Thank you, Elye! That's so kind of you. I didn't know that a gap tooth smile was desirable in Japan. And I agree, I wish mine was a little more prominent too! :)

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  6. Aw, wow! That's exactly it, they're mine. It's such a simple, beautiful statement, but I've noticed that it makes all the difference in terms of self acceptance.

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  7. I like the new /old you just as it is. I've never had a gap but so-called perfect bite, while my sisters struggled with braces. I was just lucky. I like the idea of undoing things you thought you should do to find your old face.

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  8. [...] “Since notions of beauty are singularly unique and deeply personal to each individual, it’s dangerous to make blanket judgements about a particular decision or appearance. It’s additionally challenging not only to realize what you find beautiful, but to discover that your understanding of beauty might differ dramatically from other people’s.” Beauty 6 teeth – miss underpinnings [...]

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  9. I think it looks gorgeous! I am a big fan of all different kinds of beauty - we're not all meant to look the same. :)

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