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Wednesday 29 March 2017

Smile if you've got Hollywood choppers

Joanna Kiernan

Joanna Kiernan

My eldest sister is adamant about having a full set of porcelain veneers fitted once she hits 40. She has a while to go, but this has caused much consternation in a family whose patriarch is constantly extolling the belief that one should not 'gild the lily'.

I, on the other hand, have provided several examples of this procedure going wrong which has only motivated her to look for the most expensive option in a bid "to avoid cowboys".

It's quite a new phenomenon, this looking after our teeth lark. Ireland has not exactly got a name for itself as a toothy grin nation, but things appear to be changing.

There was an episode of The Simpsons in which a deranged dentist terrifies kids into looking after their teeth using 'The Big Book of British Smiles', and for quite a long time we were the poorer cousins in this regard.

However, nowadays it's rare to see a gummy grin. Not only are we keeping more of our teeth, they're now straighter, whiter and more prominent than ever.

There are countless methods of improvement available, all one needs to do is take to the internet or walk to the nearest pharmacy -- from tooth whitening procedures costing €99 to DIY bleaching kits and the more extreme whitening lamps for just a couple of hundred euro: we are all looking on the bright side in the dental sense if nothing else.

Just look at RTE stars like Grainne Seoige and Sharon Ni Bheolain; politicians like Lucinda Creighton, Gerry Adams; comedians like Tommy Tiernan and Pat Shortt for examples of enviable choppers.

Even our bad boy types have made the transition from Shane MacGowan to Colin Farrell with pearlies to be proud of.

Of course we're all after that Hollywood smile, which is probably the reason the word 'celebrity' appears in close association with many of the products available.

But just when we got the hang of paying attention to our teeth, some perhaps going a little overboard, it looks like we could be heading for a backwards trend.

With recent cutbacks in dental treatment for school children and those on medical cards, the long forgotten edentulous characters of the past just might make a comeback.

Just last month the case of medical cardholder Shauna Murphy, 16, came to light. She faced having 14 teeth extracted because cutbacks prevented her dentist from giving her fillings. It's a predicament likely to be shared by many other Irish people in the future considering the HSE will only cover two fillings a year in such cases.

It may sound superficial but in a modern world where people are increasingly judged as 'authentic' or employable by their looks, teeth are important.

Not least are they important for the health of the nation, but also so that we look like a healthy nation, which is another thing entirely.

Get scrubbing those gnashers, people.

Sunday Independent

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