Think of literally any famous person: I will be thinking about Megan Fox. Now imagine that person’s smile. Is it perfect? Do they have big, beautiful pearly whites, the kind that can only be achieved through the extensive work of someone with a DDS degree? They probably do, because most celebrities get their teeth fixed as soon as that first big check comes through.
It makes sense; having straight, perfect teeth has long been a class signifier. A “good” smile can make us believe that someone is beautiful, rich, and happy, even if they’re just a vacuous millionaire who hasn’t felt empathy in years.
Dr. Daniel Naysan, a dentist based in Beverly Hills (his website greets you with a quote from Paris Hilton declaring him “the only dentist I trust with my smile”) says that celebrities are drawn to veneers for the exact reason you’d expect: they want to look good.
“Celebs are very conscious of what they look like on film and are looking for perfection aesthetically. Not only just in their skin, or their face, or their body, but the smile plays a big role,” Dr. Naysan said, “You can have perfect skin, perfect body, but if your teeth don't match that then there's something off.”
While it might be cosmetically beneficial to fix up those chompers, it comes at a price (and not just the thousands of dollars that veneers cost – they go for as high as $2,500 per tooth). Something is lost when a person gets the same smile as everyone else; suddenly there is no character, no charm to their mouth. Remember when Hilary Duff got a giant set of veneers in 2005? They were too perfect, too straight, and too big for her face. The art of veneers has progressed since then (Duff seems to have gotten her’s replaced with a more natural looking set), but there is something uncanny about her first foray into cosmetic dental surgery. In an attempt to look perfect, she overshot the mark, and ended up looking unnatural.
Just last year Dakota Johnson made headlines for saying that she actually wanted to get her once signature gap back after it had closed on its own. “I was so upset because I’ve had the gap my whole life,” she told InStyle at the time. “The whole thing was a nightmare for me, honestly.” A woman who understands how powerful a unique smile can be.
Back in 2016, my colleague Kelly Conaboy wrote an article for The Hairpin called “Celebrities All Have Little Real Teeth Under Their Big Fake Teeth.” However, Dr. Naysan notes that in recent years technology has progressed to a point where veneers can be “as thin as a contact lens… we can be very conservative with one’s tooth structure, and also produce results that are very natural, beautiful, and vibrant.” While that might be the case, there are a brave few who have decided to keep the teeth they were born with. Or rather, the teeth that grew in after the first set of teeth fell out.
Consider Steve Buscemi. The beloved actor has played every kind of freak under the sun, and the one thing they all have in common is that their teeth are crooked. Buscemi’s teeth look like that of your average 63-year-old man – they’re naturally big, with his left incisor jutting out a little bit, his front teeth sitting slightly further back, and they have that yellow-ish color from his life as a former smoker . These teeth tell a story.
For an actor, teeth can be another tool in their arsenal. Buscemi’s allow him to believably portray mob men, layabouts, and Nikita Khrushchev. They remind you that he’s a real person. He could be your high school math teacher, or the guy behind your deli counter, and you would be like, “Yeah, that’s just Steve.”
“Sure,” I can hear you saying, “but Buscemi is a weird-looking guy who plays weird-looking people, of course he hasn’t got the gleaming, straight smile of Chris Evans.” That is a fair point, but consider the following list of classically beautiful women who kept their original teeth:
- Kirsten Dunst
- Drew Barrymore
- Anna Paquin
- Keira Knightley
- Kate Winslet
I understand that it’s a short list and that half of them are British, but the truth of the matter is that it’s hard to find famous people who haven’t opted for teeth that are so white and straight that you could confuse them with a consulting firm. What the list lacks in numbers it makes up for sheer likability. These women all live in their own niches, but the two things that unite them are their aggressively normal teeth and being universally beloved. Coincidence? I think not.
(As an aside, I am fully aware that these women are also all white, but if you can’t figure out why a person of color operating in Hollywood circles might want to get their teeth fixed I don’t know what to tell you.)
Show me a person who hates Drew Barrymore, and I will show you a fool. The former child star and current daytime television host is, I believe, one of the most charming people on the planet with one of the most beautiful smiles. Her front teeth sit slightly behind her incisors, they don’t sparkle in a cartoonish way, but rather they have the same kind of dull whitness that your or I can expect to have at 46. Her smile favors the right side of her face instead of symmetry, and like Buscemi, her teeth make her seem more “relatable” despite the fact that she is the nepotism baby.
Kirsten Dunst has even gone on the record about her teeth, saying that it was Sofia Coppola who convinced her to keep her signature “snaggle fangs.” “Sofia is the chicest, coolest girl, and she thinks my teeth are great,” Dunst told Variety. I agree with Sofia.
When asked for his opinion about celebrities who haven’t touched their teeth, Dr. Naysan said, “I always tell patients, it's not the smile that makes you. It’s you that makes the smile. That's what gives them their personality… If they're confident rocking that look, then that's gonna look better than if I make the most beautiful smile that doesn't have the confidence to rock the look.”
I was moved by the sentiment.
There’s the old adage that “clothes make the man.”I disagree. When it comes to famous people, it’s all in the teeth. What a celebrity chooses to do with their teeth tells me everything: Do they have a decent amount of liquid cash? Do they care about what others think? Are they willing to live with the knowledge that underneath their “perfect” grin there’s a slew of ground-down little nubs? Keeping your teeth natural is the easiest way to, forgive me, be authentic in the godawful entertainment industry. And in a time where A-listers are trying to vlog their way to relatability, maybe a little bit of a snaggletooth would do them some good.