Monday, December 19, 2011

Dentally Disturbed

Modern Japan enjoys an incredibly rich culture that includes J-pop music, fashion, anime, manga, film, graphic art, video games, cell phone hi-tech, social networking and a dozen others all creating a multi-billion dollar revenue yearly. It is a country that loves anything new and its population of 128 million has an insatiable appetite for fads. New ones come and go, at times curious, occasionally bizarre, and frequently outright wacky.

Following a series of Japan links in my news hunt on Sunday morning I came upon a story about a new fad in Japan, or at least new in Tokyo, if not other large Japanese cities. This one falls into the category of outright wacky. But first, a little background on the alignment of teeth, and until recently the shortage of modern orthodontics in Japan. These days it is a common sight to see teens wearing braces, but that wasn’t always the case. The result is a large segment of the over-seventeen population having misaligned teeth, a condition known as yaeba or crooked teeth. Interestingly, quite a few Japanese have found something in crooked teeth to admire, referring to it in many cases as a “charm point.” The number of cute young singing and television idols with this charm point is almost too many to count.

And now a dental clinic in Tokyo’s Ginza will produce that toothy charm for both men and women with straight teeth, giving them a slightly imperfect look and enhancing their attraction to the opposite sex. The theory behind this dental reworking is that perfect teeth may scare off suitors lacking confidence. The idea is that a down-home toothsome smile is less intimidating to those without that perfect smile. But it doesn’t come cheap, and depending upon how much imperfection you’re looking for, the cost is going to be at least $385 for the minimal set of crooked plastic caps.

Here’s what one Tokyo orthodontist has to say about the fad for imperfect ‘false’ teeth…

“It’s a crazy idea. Teeth have holes to let oxygen in. Covering them is bad for the health of the teeth. Not that it matters though, since It’s clearly a passing fad that will be gone in six months.”


  1. Nice to know I would be in style teeth-wise in Japan. Strange times indeed when one would get crooked teeth so someone else would not be intimidated by a perfect smile. What next? Adding unslightly pounds or never ever styling the hair so we can all be unintimidated frumps?

  2. Who would believe something like this????? Parents in this country spend millions of dollars straightening their children's teeth and now the adults are doing the same because of overbites, underbites that cause TMJ which is a horrible aching in the jaws.

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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America