Q: Why are perfect, pearly white gnashers considered part and parcel of being an attractive individual?
Okay, so obviously I know WHY we love pristine teeth. Nobody likes a set of misshapen, greying tombstones that look like they’ve started to accumulate patches of algae. But why do we put ourselves through the torture of routinely having our teeth filed down, scraped out and pushed back just to boost our attractiveness by a tiny percentage?*
*NOTE: I don’t mean to offend anyone who’s had cosmetic dental work. I had hideously expensive invisible braces (cheers, M & D) for around a year, and they work wonders. I’m questioning my own motives here, too!
This internal debate, in case you’re wondering, was sparked by a recent trip to the dentist. After a relatively pain-free six months, I decided it was high time I pay a trip to the hygienist to get my regular dose of dental work. It started off okay, all ‘lie back in the chair and pop on these goggles for me, please’ and then there was the lovely sound of sharp metal against (apparently swollen) gums.
All this was, of course, achingly familiar. I’m not a hygienist ‘virgin’ by any standards. Yet somehow I always seem to forget that a session in the dentist’s chair is not dissimilar to half an hour of torture, with one big difference; we actually volunteer to have this done to us. We pay £40 for the privilege of having a stranger with a high class degree scrape off our slime and plaque (if only sins could be washed away with such ease). ‘You’re doing so well,’ the hygienist says apologetically while attempting to shove a furry piece of plastic in between a pair of particularly tight teeth.
I’m not sure I believe that we put up with this horrendous routine purely for ‘health reasons.’ The thing we really want is much more superficial than that. We eagerly await that elusive moment when the scraping has stopped, the garish pink liquid has been gargled and the polishing instruments are brought out like presents on Christmas Day.
We internally high five ourselves for having survived such a gruelling 30 minutes. We know that later, in the safety of our homes, when we pull a Shrek-like expression in front of the bathroom mirror we will see a set of pearly white gnashers glaring back at us and think ‘it was worth it.’ The remainder of the day will be spent furiously texting our friends, recounting the horror of the experience as though it were a top rated news story before treating ourselves to a Chai tea latte (because we totally deserve it, OBVS).
‘No pain, no gain’ is the message we have drilled into us by a bunch of celebrity magazines and boutique beauty shops. ‘Get your eyebrows waxed, OR ELSE.’ It’s like they’ve got a gun pointed at our heads that shoots beams of ugliness instead of bullets. I’m not too proud to admit that I’ve fallen prey to this mantra a number of times myself.
Perhaps the real question is whether we should blindly obey this concept or throw it to the wayside. After all, certainly where teeth are concerned, aren’t wonky, funny shaped teeth that are just a bit off-colour a quintessential part of being British?