Teeth take a bite of the cool factor

From dental hygiene to high fashion, teeth are trendy once more, as Sarah-Jane Corfield-Smith discovers

Dentistry has undergone a journey of extremes in the last decade. The Nineties’ dentist appointment was one of medical necessity or hygienic maintenance. Then, at the start of the Noughties, came the rise of the “Hollywood smile” when going to the dentist was a status symbol and cosmetic procedures emulated celebrity smiles. Suddenly, excessively white and unnaturally square teeth became the socially acceptable aesthetic norm.

However, according to the British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (BACD) the number of extensive smile makeovers dropped by 50 per cent in 2010, to be replaced this year by a 50 per cent rise in less invasive techniques, such as orthodontics. So what has caused the Hollywood smile to come crashing down and less intrusive procedures to soar?

“Procedures such as fitting veneers to create a perfect smile are expensive and it takes a very skilled dentist to make them look natural,” says Oral-B dental ambassador, Dr Uchenna Okoye. “They also need replacing after ten years. In the current economic climate, people are looking for long-term solutions that are cost-effective and improve the health – not just the superficial appearance – of their teeth.”

It’s a sentiment that resonates with younger consumers. You only need to look at famously gapped-toothed models, Lara Stone and Georgia May Jagger to see that dental imperfections are finally being embraced by the fashion world. And in a survey carried out by Oral-B, 50 per cent of 25 to 34- year-old participants said they wouldn’t have surgery to correct gaps in their teeth, regarding them to be a currently “on-trend” fashion statement.

People are looking for long-term solutions that are cost-effective and improve the health – not just the superficial appearance – of their teeth

An examination of the beauty industry’s biggest success story of 2012, the BB (blemish balm) cream confirms that there has recently been a shift towards “a new kind of perfect”. “BB creams are a multi-tasking product that evens the skin tone but allows freckles, which would have previously been concealed, to shine through,” says make-up artist Caroline Barnes. “In this sense, they are representative of a new movement towards women wanting to look their best – but real. Celebrating quirks and flaws is now seen as a means of expressing our individuality, and this is reflected in the way we want our smiles to look.”

So, what does this mean for the future of dental procedures? “People are becoming more aware of how important their smiles are,” says Dr Okoye. Findings from a survey carried out by Invisalign certainly reinforce the point with 25 per cent of people saying a healthy smile makes you happier, healthier and more popular. So for the foreseeable future, it’s bye-bye Hollywood, hello normality.

Things to make you look and feel good


The Air Abrasion Surface Polish, at £125 per tooth, blasts micron aluminium oxide powder on to the tooth to remove stains and discolouration. It doesn’t require anaesthetic, heat or pressure.

The brush with a built-in teacher

The Oral-B PC Triumph 5000 with SmartGuide, at £179.99, tells you how long you have brushed for and when you’re applying too much pressure.

Have your cake and brush with it too

Satisfy your sweet tooth without sugar-guilt with Cupcake Toothpaste, at £4.49.

Beauty in the bathroom

Cath Kidston’s English Rose Toothbrush and Soap Holder, at £10, is a chic way to store your toothbrush.

Vintage toothpaste

Celebrate the Diamond Jubilee with Colgate’s original packaging from 1952, at an up-to-date price of £1.