A new cosmetic procedure known as ‘yaeba’ is all the rage among beautiful young things in Japan. The word literally translates as ‘multi-layered’ or ‘double’ tooth, and describes the fanged look achieved when molars crowd the canines, pushing them forward. Fans believe an imperfect smile looks somehow more innocent and ‘authentic’ – but before you curse the day your mother put you in retainers, the trend stands little chance of making it across the Pacific says Dr Irwin Smigel, the man widely regarded as the ‘grandfather of cosmetic dentistry.’
“Americans will always want a Julia Roberts smile – wider and whiter,” said his wife Lucia Smigel on a recent visit to his state-of-the-art Madison Avenue surgery (but then she would – she’s also the marketing brains behind Smigel’s best-selling tooth-whitening Supersmile product line). Why? “In the States it’s always been associated with youth,” she said. And anti-ageing dental procedures have become something of a specialty for Smigel over the years.
Working with the muscles in what he calls “the smile zone,” he claims to be able to shave years off by smoothing out wrinkles from the inside out. “I use laminates and veneers to build out the back teeth, which lifts the cheekbones and lengthens the face,” he said, the magic formula for a fuller, younger looking face. This is the one treatment, Dr Smigel suggests anyone looking for an anti-aging solution should consider before cosmetic treatments. The problem is teeth grinding. Not only does this cause headaches and jaw tension, over time it actually ages the face as the teeth wear down, causing cheeks to hollow out or even sag. Teeth can also crack or crumble over time and if they are not adequately repaired or replaced, imbalances in the exact sizing can cause stress on other teeth and further damage. While a night-time mouthguard can be the short term solution to teeth grinding, once the damage has been done the teeth need proper repair.
Having maintained an active practice since 1960, Dr Smigel claimed that his sole ambition in dentistry has been to try and make people more beautiful. “I knew I could make people so much happier and really change their lives,” he said. People like the celebrities who flock to see him – over the years this has included everyone from Johnny Depp to J.Lo, his office lined with yellowing photographs. “We switch them out depending who’s coming in. They can’t all be his favorite!” said Mrs Smigel.