Directed by Alice Arnold • Documentary • 2007 • 26 minutes
The vital importance of an attractive smile, accented by gleaming white teeth, is repeatedly emphasized in all forms of contemporary consumer culture. This film is an amusing but informative look at the psychological, social and economic issues involved in our concerns about dental hygiene, and how the marketplace perpetuates and exploits these anxieties.
Featuring interviews with people having admittedly less-than-perfect smiles-with yellow, crooked, missing teeth or gaps-plus commentary by dentists, a psychoanalyst and a health educator, TEETH examines historical and cultural attitudes to teeth, society's current notions of beauty, and the recent boom in teeth-whitening products and cosmetic dentistry.
While discussing how economic inequalities, including the lack of universal dental healthcare insurance, affect Americans' oral health, TEETH also examines hip-hop culture's fashion of sporting gold or diamond-plated "grills" in the mouth as just the latest example of the connections between consumer culture, commercial images, self-identity and personal expression.