Perfect teeth – white, straight and evenly aligned – may be the ideal in America, but that aesthetic is not for everyone.
Japanese women are going gaga for a crowded, crooked-toothed smile with accentuated canine teeth, known as the ‘yaeba’ look.
Popular at dentists in Tokyo, a cosmetic procedure to create the yaeba effect involves attaching non-permanent adhesive mini-fangs to canine teeth.
Yaeba, meaning ‘double tooth,’ is a sought-after treatment at Dental Salon Plaisir in Tokyu’s upmarket Ginza neighbourhood, where, perhaps in response to Twilight fans, Dr Kashiyama has been ‘pushing’ the $390 alteration, according to InventorSpot.com.
Far from the usual blood-lusting connotations of vampires, the sharp-canined look is an attempt at making a smile more child-like, replicating the odd alignment of smiles that are affected by delayed baby teeth.
The look – frothed about on blogs, Facebook fan pages and on Japanese TV – is seen as adding a well-calculated dash of imperfection to a pretty face, adding to a woman’s desirability.
Essentially, says the New York Times, the look is about a desire to appear younger.
Pace University’s Dr Emilie Zaslow, assistant professor of communication studies, told the newspaper: ‘The naturally occurring yaeba is because of delayed baby teeth, or a mouth that’s too small.
‘It’s this kind of emphasis on youth and the sexualization of young girls.’
The trend follows the Western fondness of late for the gap-toothed smile – also a ‘young’ dental look.
Made popular by the likes of models Lara Stone, Georgia Jagger and Jessica Hart, the Madonna-style grin became a requested look at New York salons last year.
Dr Marc Lowenberg, a cosmetic dentist in Manhattan, told the New York Times in 2010: ‘The white standard got too white. The perfection standard got too perfect.’
Vincent Devaud, a ceramist from Pasadena in California, added: ‘What makes a person desirable and attractive? It’s not the symmetry; it’s perfect imperfections.’
Kirsten Dunst would surely agree. The actress told Elle UK that is very fond of her ‘snaggleteeth.’
‘I love my snaggle fangs,’ she said. ‘They give me character and character is sexy.’ Yaeba sites have latched on to her look, celebrating its crookedness.
There is, of course, the danger that by aiming to be unusual, eccentricity becomes mainstream – and that whimsical ‘imperfection’ is all about pandering to be more perfect.
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