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Weird History

How Teeth Have Indicated Status Throughout History

A pearly-white smile wasn't always the status symbol it is today. In fact, people in the past frequently blackened or filed their teeth - some even replaced their teeth with gold as an indication of their wealth. Throughout history, teeth have been linked to status, and as such, dental fashion has changed over time. The ancient Romans went to extreme lengths to whiten their teeth, even using urine as a whitening agent. George Washington wanted a perfect smile so badly, he bought human teeth for his dentures. Ancient Egyptians filled their cavities with barley and honey, while ancient Etruscan women pulled their front teeth to make room for gold grills.  

Today, Hollywood celebrities show off fake teeth as a status symbol. In the past, powerful people sometimes adorned their teeth with jade or drank iron to turn their teeth black. When royals make bizarre choices, they often create new fashion trends: Queen Elizabeth's proclivity for sweets turned her teeth black, and social climbers were soon after blackening their teeth to appear rich. Here's how teeth have represented status throughout history.

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