There are many different cultures, each with their own unique traditions and stories. The cultural dental practices of one tribe or community may seem strange to another. People are getting more aware of maintaining good oral health, but the way it is achieved is unique in different cultures. Especially when children lose their baby teeth, the traditions and folklore people in various parts of the world follow are unique. Apart from these baby tooth practices, people of many cultures see oral health as a reflection of their overall status. Colorful dental traditions to improve, fix or adorn teeth have existed in various cultures around the world for thousands of years. More than just an instrument for biting or chewing food, people transform their teeth through methods like blackening and fashion braces. Teeth have become synonymous with the wealth, status or beauty of people in different cultures. Look at some of the most notable cultural dental trends from around the world.
More than an actual device to help teeth, grills have made their renaissance as an extravagant teeth dressing method. People get dentists to shape decorative teeth grills made of gold, silver or even diamond that can usually be snapp ed on. The rise in popularity of decorative grills can be attributed to the famous rappers, hip-hop fans and celebrities wearing them as part of their everyday fashion. The trend actually started with Nelly’s “Grillz” , a rap tribute to jeweled teeth featuring more than 70 close-up shots of gold and diamond-studded teeth. The trend is continued by Americans even fifteen years after “Grillz” was released.
While most people consider white, straight teeth as a symbol of perfection, teeth blackening is believed as a valuable practice in some cultures. Teeth blackening which stands for beauty, maturity and refinement is usually done using a mix of iron filings and vinegar. This compound can act as a modern dental sealant that prevents the formation of cavities and helps teeth survive into old age. Teeth blackening is held in high esteem in many Southeast Asian and Oceanic cultures and also became popular in certain tribes in Peru and Ecuador. Teeth blackening known as ohaguro in Japanese made the biggest impression among westerners with its practice during the Meiji period in Japan. Ohaguru symbolizes the transition of a carefree, single young woman into a responsible, married woman.
Crooked teeth, known as Yaeba in Japanese, are another counterculture idea that Japan continues following in their dental traditions. Unlike many other extravagant cultural dental trends, the Japanese celebrate ‘Yaeba’ which means the beauty of imperfect teeth. Men consider crooked teeth to be an actually endearing quality in the opposite sex as it shows that a girl is not perfect. It is so popular in Japan that some Japanese women pay dentists to modify their straight teeth into something more crooked by placing plastic fronts on real teeth.
The Vampire Fangs are one of the weirdest dental trends that made its renaissance following a DIY Vampire Fangs challenge that made the rounds in 2020 on the popular social media app TikTok. The challenge inspired by the Halloween celebrations involved users gluing costume vampire fangs to their teeth, but the compelling part was about watching them remove the vampire teeth after the stunt. Many dentists have condemned this trend, saying nail glue is not only poisonous but it’s hard to come off.
Similar to the Japanese Yaeba look, The front tooth gap or London Gap is a dental trend that is getting popular in some circles. The London Gap also celebrates teeth imperfection where the tooth gaps between the front teeth are proudly displayed. Many 20-something women rushed to enhance tooth gaps after celebrity models Lara Stone and Georgia May Jagger sported the “London Look” that prominently featured their gap-tooth. Medically known as Diastema, patients who had the gap between the two upper front teeth wanted it closed a few years ago, but many are now visiting the dentist to make the gap more prominent.
A long-standing dental tradition in many cultures in countries such as Indonesia, Mexico and Congo, teeth sharpening is the process where people file their teeth for spiritual and identification purposes. In Bali, teeth sharpening is a coming-of-age ritual where teenagers get their canines filed down in a ritual called Potong gigi. Teeth sharpening is believed to reduce the chances of feeling negative ideas such as anger and jealousy. It is also believed that filing teeth can spiritually separate a person from their ancestors and shield them from animalistic tendencies. In other cultures like the Herrero tribe and the Mentawai tribe, it is believed that teeth sharpening enhances the beauty of the wearer or makes it easier for women to attract a lover.
Dental tattoos, popularly known as ‘tattooth’ are a growing trend among the youngsters who aren’t cool enough with body tattoos. The procedure is not as painful as regular tattoos but can be done only for patients needed with a dental crown and at an additional fee ranging from $75 to $200. The procedure using tooth enamel won’t work the same as regular tattoos that work by staining the underside of the skin with pigment. Those who don’t want to scar their enamel with a permanent tattoo can opt for temporary stickers, designs, or jewelry that sticks to the tooth.
These were the top 7 weird cultural dental trends around the world. It is better not to follow any dental trends from other cultures as your mouth, teeth, and gums will not be adapted to their practices.
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