I was thinking the other day about the gold/platinum encrusted teeth guards that celebrities are showing off lately. How does 55 year-old Madonna get away with proudly flashing her “grilz” at the world? I thought these types of ridiculous accessories were only for hard-core rappers or hip-hop artists? Apparently they are hugely expensive and can cost up to US100 000-00!
I remember when I was a little girl and I used to watch my mother soak her false teeth in that special steri-tab solution. (This I tell you shyly with my hands over my eyes). And then she used to polish (with good old Brasso) the gold initials AA (for her name and surname) and tell me that if I got good marks at school she might consider letting me have some gold in my teeth. (No wonder I ran away from home at 18!).
But those were the days before crowns and veneers – when it was fashionable and more cost effective to have a set of false teeth made up. And for those who were a little mad and eccentric – you could even gold initial them!
Which brings me to the other extreme called the “Passion Gap”.
This is a tradition going back 60 years here in the Cape Flats of the Mother City Cape Town. It’s when the coloured folk remove four of their front teeth (dental mutilation). Some say it’s because of peer pressure. Others say it makes them kiss better and perform better during oral sex. One local fisherman says it makes him whistle louder.
According to research, the Cape Coloureds were actually ahead of the latest trend of “Celebrity Grilz” at least a decade ago, when it was considered to elevate your status if you had gold removal caps or plates put in to cover the gap in the front. “Peers would respect you more” said one youngster. “But if you were in a gang they would remove your gold teeth so as to take away a bit of your wealth”.
Well there you have it. From my perspective, whether it is part of a culture or heritage or whether it’s Beyonce or Miley Cyrus flashing their sets of vampire fangs, I am most happy with my plain ordinary teeth and I have no desire to flash a golden smile at anyone.