The story is slightly different in Japan, where “yaeba,” or snaggletooth, are considered cute; with some men finding the imperfect smile they form endearingly childlike and attractive.
Okay, so maybe “snaggletooth” is an unfair translation. “Yaeba” literally means “multilayered” or “double” tooth, and describes the fanged look achieved when molars crowd the canines and push them forward. It’s not a serious dental deformity, but it’s certainly enough to get you picked on at school in some countries.
Thanks to the popularity of pop-idol group AKB48′s Tomomi Itano and other celebrities sporting a pair of rogue chompers of their own, “yaeba” has turned into a cosmetic craze in recent years, with Japanese women of all ages flocking to dental clinics to have temporary or permanent artificial canines, called “tsuke-yaeba,” glued to their teeth.
Dental Salon Plasir, located in Tokyo’s ritzy Ginza district, is one such clinic offering a “tsuke-yaeba” procedure, and they’ve even made this informative commercial so you can see what the process of paying someone to wreck your teeth is like.
Longtime readers might also recall the world’s first snaggletooth girl group, TYB48 (tsuke-yaeba48), which held their debut concert in Akihabara, Tokyo, last April.
TYB48 was actually formed by another dental clinic offering “tsuke-yaeba,” Pure Cure in Roppongi, Tokyo. Excite recently sat down with clinic director Taro Masuoka to ask him about the popularity of tsuke-yaeba and how he came up with the idea for a pop group.
“‘Yaeba’ give girls an impish cuteness”, said Masuoka. “It’s a sense of beauty unique to the Japanese, but ‘yaeba’ can be an attractive feature on women in their teens and twenties.” He even encourages the former group into his clinic with a half-price discount on “tsuke-yaeba” for middle school and high school students (ID required).
Masuoka admits that there are some women who come back to have their “tsuke-yaeba” taken off, and for that reason also offers removable-type “tsuke-yaeba” at the same price.
Regarding the formation of TYB48, Masuoka explains: “A lot of my patients are fashion-conscious and very cute. I wanted to find some way to take advantage of this, so I formed TYB48.”
While TYB48 has yet to make it big on the pop idol stage, it looks like the “yaeba” craze will be sticking around in Japan for awhile; but could it ever catch on overseas?