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.
"TEETH presents an innovative way of seeing and understanding a beaming smile as something more than an expression of felt emotions, but as an indelible statement—a visual credential—marking the wearer's place in society. With intelligence and imagination the film offers a biting look at the marginalization of character in the quest to achieve a killer, if generic, grin. Here again, Alice Arnold distinguishes herself as one of our most insightful and ingenious new documentarians."Prof. Stuart Ewen, Film and Media Studies, Hunter College
Museum of Modern Art Documentary Fortnight 2008
"Recommended for sociology of current events classes and collections." —Library Journal