We’re all seeking a toothpaste smile, more than ever. But some Flemish people still accept their imperfect teeth. What’s more: they cherish their teeth. Even if it is crooked, or there is a crack. Flora, Angie and Laura smile widely. “My teeth are an asset to my career.” But how does their environment respond?
“In primary school, I was often asked about the gap between my teeth,” says midwife Flora Baillieu, 34. “They sometimes called me Guy Verhofstadt. But my ‘cleft smile’ became my calling card. I was always cheerful and was never insecure about my teeth. A few years ago, it was all the rage and I received compliments on my ‘British look.’
“Years ago, my boyfriend fell deeply in love with me, precisely because of that magical gap between my teeth,” says Flora. “We always had a secret hope that our future children would inherit that family trait. After all, my father had similar teeth. When my son Bob’s first teeth came in, we were ecstatic: just like my mother, he had a gap between his front teeth.
“I realize that not everyone finds my teeth equally charming. I also hope that Bob will never be harassed because of his cleft. Let’s say he later decides to straighten his teeth, I won’t have a problem with it. I like to see him as he is: with or without a gap between the teeth.”
Angie’s mother did not have enough money to buy expensive braces. “Now my teeth are part of me”
Mum-of-two Angie Willekens (39) also accepts her flaws. “My teeth have always had a mind of their own. The dentist used to say, to my mother’s delight, that my mouth is too small for my teeth.
“My mother was a single woman and there was not enough money to buy expensive braces. But our dentist never gave me the feeling that something was wrong with my teeth. Even though my teeth are crooked, I always receive compliments on how strong they are: until now I have not I have almost no problems with my teeth.
I don’t find many pictures of myself with a big smile. Strange, because I’m not ashamed
“I realize that my teeth are not perfect, like those of many others. Although I never feel insecure about it, I have recently noticed that I often laugh unconsciously with my mouth closed. I don’t find many photos of myself with a big smile.
“Crazy, because after almost forty years I can say with certainty that my teeth are a part of me and that I am not ashamed of them at all. Nowadays, we focus on perfection, while sometimes a little imperfection is more beautiful. So it’s time to smile.” And I expose my teeth a little more.
Laura (25 years old): “Even my false teeth have to have a gap later”
Laura Vanbee (25) is a make-up artist and is proud of her tooth gap: “I was born with this unique gap between my teeth. Because of a defect in my mouth, I had one between my baby teeth. I really didn’t want to have surgery for aesthetic reasons. My parents never pushed me “Also. They think that hole in my smile is one of the most beautiful things about me.”
“It has always been a childhood dream of mine to become a makeup artist, and my imperfect teeth have never stopped me from achieving that dream. No, even I have noticed over the years that it is a real asset. Artists often ask me to collaborate, precisely because of my genuine smile.
“Of course in the fashion and film industry where I work, I see a lot of perfect teeth. Actors, models… they all have a smile that is as straight as toothpaste. And although there is nothing wrong with this ideal of beauty, I see no reason to conform to it.” “Even my dentures have to have a gap between the front teeth later. Because that makes me 100% Laura.”
How does an orthodontist view imperfect teeth?
Orthodontist Charlotte van Elst (37) has been active in her practice for ten years. “Society is changing: we look at ourselves more often, whether on screen or not. As a result, I see an increase in the number of patients who come for aesthetic reasons.
“Is our help always needed? If the patient has problems, and this can also be due to uncertainty, I see treatment as an asset. Is it just about the beauty ideal, and there is nothing functionally wrong with the teeth? Then I do not recommend an operation “Surgery. A healthy mouth is much more important than a perfect smile. But the choice remains for the patient.”
“Ultimately, your smile affects your self-confidence,” says the orthodontist. “It has been scientifically proven that more than eighty percent of people look at their teeth for the first time when they first meet them. But I also believe that you can radiate self-confidence by being proud of your imperfect teeth.”
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