Yaeba: The Gap Tooth Procedure, Like the Trend, is Only Temporary

Having that perfect, pearly white smile is something everyone wants. In fact, Australians spent more than $7.8 billion on dental care expenses from 2010-11, a 2.2 per cent increase compared to 2009-2010. Of course, it helps that most patients are aware of the different treatment procedures available to make their smiles look better. However, trends also play an important factor in public opinion. If celebrities have cosmetic dental procedures to straighten and whiten their teeth, it makes sense that thousands of fans will also try the procedures to get the same results.


But What If the Trend Switches the Other Way?

In recent years, several dental trends emerged based on popular TV series and movies. The hit movie “Twilight” resulted in a hordes of fans asking their dentists for sharp canines to mimic the vampires in the movie. Most of these trends come and go, but a few of them have stuck around and become quite popular. The most recent dental trend originates from Japan: the gap-toothed smile.

The Japanese Trend of Yaeba

Having crowded teeth was the main reason people opted for orthodontic treatment as the teeth were straightened to create a beautiful, even smile. However, this same overlapped or double-tooth smile is now very popular in Japan. Apparently, Japanese men find this dental overlapping attractive and Japanese celebrities display this “snaggle-toothed” smile quite prominently.

The Japanese word “yaeba” means double teeth, and it usually indicates prominent central incisors, retracted lateral incisors and prominent canines. The look is not new, as some Hollywood celebrities have the same smile. Stars like Ashley Smith, Jessica Hart, Abbey Lee Kershaw, Lauren Hutton, Vanessa Paradis, Lara Stone and Lily Aldridge all have almost similar smiles along with central spacing in their teeth but this is not intentional, as they’ve not yet opted for treatment to straighten their smiles.

In fact, in an episode of “America’s Top Model,” the host Tyra Banks actually encouraged a contestant to have the existing gap in her teeth increased. This was in direct contradiction to what she told another contestant with the same smile a year previously. During that time, the trend was not popular, but now the gap-toothed smile is “in,” and having the smile on a model could net her big deals. The trend has also percolated down to customers, as Japanese patients now pay their orthodontists to develop the snaggle-toothed smile. Using orthodontia to move teeth could take a long time to create the overlapping result. To speed up the process, most dentists in the country provide veneers that are stuck to the surface of the canines with non-permanent glue to create the irregular smile.

Times Have Changed

It wasn’t that long ago, though, that actors and models were asked to cover up their gaps. Australian model Jessica Hart told the Wall Street Journal that she used to wear a prosthetic insert to cover up the gap in her teeth. These days? She gets work because of the gap, not in spite of it. It’s part of her “look.” “If (clients) don’t like my gap, I don’t want to work for them,” she told the Wall Street Journal.

While this latest trend isn’t thought to have much staying power, it’s an interesting take on health and beauty in general. While celebrities are often noted for their beauty, this trend celebrates your imperfection. Some women feel it gives them a more youthful appearance, while Japanese men say they feel they are more approachable. So, will this cause permanent damage? Thus far, no known harm is caused by the procedure. And, much like the trend itself, the procedure is temporary.