I know I’m not the only person in Britain to rue the loss of the less-than-perfect smile. Now that people are embracing American-style dentistry this side of the Atlantic, (yes I know British dentistry is considered a joke in the USA) I’m spotting uniform, Unibond-veneered mouthfuls more than ever before. Pretty enough starlets from low-budget arthouse shows and films, whose small rows of pearly whites unobtrusively made up part of their characterful features, are suddenly being thrust into the limelight, whisked over to Hollywood and made over by the studios. Their new falsies would frighten a five-year-old. Why, Gnasher himself would be proud to sport such a top set. I’m not advocating yellowing tombstones, but large polished plates that could serve their purpose long after the rest of you has crumbled to dust are not attractive either. Anyone over 40 will remember the drill-and-fill school of dental care, whereby the smallest imaginable (and possibly imagined) piece of mis-coloured enamel would be excised and replaced with Mercury-based amalgam. Never mind your new blackish smile – your teeth will never trouble you again, was the mantra. I’m happy to say though, that this week in Henley-on-Thames I spotted many a mouth of true and honest teeth among a set of middle-aged businesswomen. They were glam, they were serious and they could smile without sending the photographer’s light meter into orbit.
I have never quite understood the appeal of the white-rush in which perfectly decent teeth, whose only fault is to be slightly misshapen, are being filed down, covered over and bigged up without any thought for how fashions might change. I blame TV makeover shows for creating a new normality that owes nothing to reality. By all means get your teeth fixed if you’ve got a serious problem, get them bleached if you want them to look whiter and straightened if you missed the brace stage as a teenager – but why would anyone my age want to look like the Banana Splits character Bingo unless they were in a four-piece furry band and were given a Banana Buggy to drive?