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Are your teeth too white?

(My thanks to Mark Ellwood
and the February 15th Bloomberg Businessweek)

     Ohmigosh! I turned the page in the latest issue of the mostly boring Bloomberg Businessweek magazine and my eyes flew open!
Back—gee! It was twenty years ago—in 2001 when the teeth-whitening rage began, I wrote:

Last week when I met my son for breakfast, he flashed me a dazzling smile. All I could see were teeth. White teeth. Whiter-than-white teeth. Lots of teeth. I swear he didn't used to have this many teeth.

     Well, okay. So his teeth were white. No big deal. Instead of gasping, I opened my mouth to compliment him on the bleach job—my mouth with the not-so-white teeth in it. Unconsciously I pulled my lips further down over my teeth. It was difficult to talk, but better than letting him see my un-whitened, un-bleached teeth."

     I went on to sort'a kind'a make fun of everyone wanting perfectly, shiningly white teeth, suggesting maybe we should find a way to make the whites of our eyes whiter, the blacks of our pupils blacker, and where would it all end?

     Well, it all ended right back in the mouth where it began. The natural mouth. That page—62, if you're wondering—titled "Scale Back on Perfection," by Mark Ellwood included the subtitle, ""A more natural-looking smile is the dental request du jour."

     Smiling with my natural-looking smile, I couldn't wait to read on. All those years of feeling less-than-perfect, I would be back in the mainstream. Finally. Seems people are realizing their new and improved teeth look suspiciously like everyone else's teeth—no personality, no "bumpy bottoms"—I kid you not—no "flutes." You know what tooth flutes are, or course. . . No? I sure didn't! Turns out "flutes" are the natural vertical lines that used to be on teeth before veneers and implants became popular.

     Worse yet, the new, improved teeth—veneers—came from a commonly used cast, thus they were all the same size more or less. And they were pretty much the same bright white color. So everyone's teeth were the same size and color and sometimes the size was a bit large for the mouth of the user, but they were white! And they were perfect! And they were just like everyone else's.

     Which. . . people came to the conclusion, wasn't so neat. The teeth were drawing too much attention. According to Ellwood, social media and Zoom, the virtual meeting app, were partly responsible for the problem. Sitting in the pandemic amid hours of looking at their too-perfect teeth that didn't exactly fit their overall face features, people began to feel self-conscious about their perfect teeth and turned to their dentists, asking for a more natural look.

     No problem! You have ten too-beautiful teeth? Fork over $30,000 for a "revision project." You'll get bumpy lobes on the bottoms of your newly fluted—vertically lined—teeth, in a less-than-glaringly white shade. Best of all, they'll be sized to look natural in your mouth—probably back to their original size. You'll be perfectly imperfect! Like you were before—and just like the rest of us.

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