Dental Perspective: How Other Cultures Perceive Oral Hygiene

We live in a culture that esteems perfection, individualism, and autonomy. However, none of us can escape the influence of pre-existing, institutionalized authority. We are all subject to our own cultural traditions and norms. So, sometimes it can be enlightening to look at other cultures to gain a frame of reference of our own beliefs.

Just as pre-existing cultural traditions and institutions like government, education systems, and big companies help to mold who we become and who we want to become, so are we able to mold our teeth into beautiful, straight, high-functioning chompers. Like when we go to the dentist or orthodontist. However, some reactions to this capability, along with our esteem of perfection, result in the scrutiny of those with poor dental health or whose teeth are not utterly perfect and a feeling of inferiority spreads among those with poor dental appearance or hygiene.

wisdom teeth removal To gain perspective on why we esteem oral health and how we define what is beautiful and what is not, here are some interesting cultural facts that shed light to the true nature of how dental health affects our mental, physical, and spiritual health.

Japanese Yaeba Phenomena

In Japan, a yaeba means a “snaggletooth”. There are oral surgery practitioners all across japan who provide tsuke yaeba or “attached snaggletooth” services to customers. This means, Japanese women actually go to oral surgeons to make their teeth look less straight because that is viewed as beautiful in Japan!

Why might this be? How can crooked teeth be seen as beautiful? Why would a woman pay to have imperfect teeth? Some people suspect it has to do with the youthful look of teeth that have not quite grown in yet. It’s pretty much a universal rule that beauty and youth go hand in hand, so Japanese culture seeing yaebas reflecting youth as beautiful can make sense to those of us who have spent hours in the mirror checking our teeth for straightness and perfection.

Oral Hygiene In Indigenous Cultures

Dr. Weston A. Price, a pioneer in nutrition and dental science, decided to study dental health patterns in indigenous cultures in the early twentieth century. He used the world as his laboratory and studied isolated primitive tribes in Switzerland, Eskimos and Natives in North America, African Tribes, Australian Aborigines, South American Natives, and more. What he found is absolutely astonishing and paralleled his initial hypothesis of how much nutrition plays a vital role in our dental health.

Wherever Dr. Price went, he found that beautiful, straight teeth, freedom from decay, strong and healthy bodies, robust immune systems, and good character were typical among these primitive tribes who had their own traditional diets. These traditions were rich in essential nutrients (should we still call them primitive?). Despite their lack of civilized dental care and oral hygiene practices, their traditional diet worked wonders.

He found that their diets were essential to not only to preventing oral decay but also to the alignment and straightness of teeth! Couples trying to start a family would go on a specialized diet while trying to get pregnant in order to ensure a strong and healthy baby. Dr. Price found that when parents started following our westernized diet that used additives and prepared food differently, their children’s teeth were crowded and more susceptible to tooth decay. Indigenous couples who stuck to their “primitive,” traditional diet bore a baby who had immaculate health, emotional stability, and straight, strong teeth.

Our Culture

Our dentists at Greenpoint understand your desire to have straight and healthy teeth. Even more, we understand how your oral health affects your entire life. By looking at these other cultures we can gain insight into the relativity of our own prejudices and perceptions, but what we continue to see is how important oral health is to beauty, the individual, and the growth of society. Schedule an appointment today and let us get to work building you a straight, strong life.