Everyone in America has perfect teeth.
That gleaming white, super straight smile that you see in the movies. Or here on Alex, who has the best smile!
I had suspected this was true from watching Julia Roberts movies in the 90s, but all of my fears were confirmed when I first arrived three years ago. The perfect smile was everywhere – on immigration officers at the airport, moms wheeling strollers, restaurant waiters. Everyone. It wasn’t just the movie stars.
I think you can tell the difference between an American and a newcomer, like me, in this brave new, gleaming world just by a smile. See, in Australia, like in Europe, it’s not so important to have perfect teeth. That far away from Hollywood, we’re pretty laissez-faire about it. Brushing, flossing… sure! (It’s not the 1600s!) But not everyone is obsessed with teeth whitening and straightening. When it comes to beauty, there are other assets that Australians care about more.
Here, though, it feels like a mega-watt smile is paramount. A must. Basically, you better have it or you’re out. And I don’t – my crooked tooth that, growing up, I felt added a little character, suddenly feels like a betrayal to this land of beautiful teeth.
Like high school all over again, when I landed I suddenly became self-conscious again — even my smile’s changed.
I’ve perfected the “slight-show-of-teeth” smile (reminder to all that I at least have teeth, haha) and the “closed lip” smile, which I think can look a little bitchy even if I really (promise) am happy!!
I embraced teeth whitening (the Crest strips really work) and, more recently, have been thinking about finally achieving perfect-smile-status, ingratiating myself into American society… By getting braces. Yes, adult braces à la Tom Cruise.
I know, I know, I know!! I feel kind of crazy for even thinking about it.
But maybe it’s better late than never, right?
When I told my boyfriend, Drew, I was thinking about braces, his response was, “But I like your snaggletooth.” (With a big, straight-toothed, all-American smile, of course.) Ok, at that point I knew I was crazy. (Who dates a guy who likes their “snaggletooth”?!)
I was, now, determined to get braces. (Hasta la vista, snaggletooth! Hello perfect teeth!)
Who cares if I’m well over a decade late to the party?
But then I decided to ask a professional, my dentist, about it first. He gave me these options:
1. Get metal braces for about 18 months which he described, “will be pretty noticeable.” (An image of Gwen Stefani during her braces period came to mind.)
2. Try Invisalign, the “invisible braces” that are more like a clear cover that corrects teeth — but it would take THREE years to straighten ONE tooth.
3. Embrace my “snaggletooth” (and forego any dream of a Julia Roberts smile).
That was six months ago and, now, my next dental appointment is coming up — and I’m still undecided. For someone who grew up smiling and not caring about that one crooked tooth, it feels like a big commitment. But, in this new world of perfect teeth, it feels like it might be the right move. After all, is there anything more beautiful than a great smile?
Is having the perfect set of teeth that important? Or is it crazy to give into the pressure of perfection?