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Teeth in Different Cultures

Published on September 19th, 2016

Oral health varies around the world. Different countries and cultures have different standards of beauty when it comes to teeth, and different traditions and practices as well. Below are some facts about oral health standards and traditions in different cultures that you might find interesting.

Obsession with White Teeth

In America, we seem to have an obsession with having bright white teeth. Other countries don’t put nearly as much emphasis on having straight white teeth. You can see it portrayed in Hollywood perhaps the best, where nearly everyone has bleached pearly whites. And while some countries put little-to-no importance on how one’s teeth look, other countries such as China put even more importance on the subject. There, many people associate how a person’s teeth look with intelligence—discolored teeth being a signal that someone is less intelligent.

To learn more about Americans’ obsession with white teeth compared to other countries, click here

Baby Teeth Traditions Around the World

While the United States has the Tooth Fairy come and take kids’ baby teeth from beneath their pillows in exchange for money, other countries have their own unique traditions. In some countries in South America, a small rat comes in the night to take the tooth and leaves behind small piles of money or candy in its place. In Nepal, children bury their teeth in the ground after they lose them so that birds won’t eat them—which is apparently very bad luck. In a number of other countries, kids take their teeth and throw them on the roof of their house while wishing for strong, healthy, adult teeth to take their place.

Curious about other traditions related to baby teeth? Learn more by clicking here!

Mayan Gems

In ancient Maya, the members of the upper class would have holes drilled into their teeth to be fitted with gemstones. Gems were used to beautify the teeth and demonstrate status. In other cases, the Mayans would cut and shape their teeth into different shapes to show their status and beauty.

For information on the Mayans’ use of jewels in teeth and other weird facts you may not have known about teeth, click on the link!

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