For years, fang-like "yaeba" have been considered cute in Japan. Whether it's video games, anime, or manga, characters with "yaeba" (snaggletooth) are a mainstay. The look is considered so cute that some girls are apparently getting their teeth capped with fake fangs.
And now, there's the inevitable pop girl with snaggletooth singers, created by a dental clinic to promote this crooked trend. Smile!
In the West, straight white teeth are generally considered desirable. Many kids get braces (I sure did!). In Japan, many people do not. Dental care is comparable to what one would get in the West—and it's covered by national insurance.
Yet, fewer people seem to floss, and many people only go to the dentist when their teeth bother them. There appears to be a much higher tolerance for passable pearlies—something that surprises foreigners when visiting Japan for the first time. The country's dental I.Q. is on the upswing, sure, but Japan is nowhere near as particular about teeth as the U.S. It's not uncommon to see celebrities with mangled chompers on nationwide television.
For idols and pop stars, "yaeba" are cute imperfections. Idols are supposed to be imperfectly perfect. That means they should be attractive, but have weak points that ultimately become charm points. Japan likes imperfections; heck, there's a traditional aesthetic built on finding beauty in things that are not perfect. In a way, yaeba are a modern—and geeky—interpretation of that. But what if you want your own perfect imperfection?
Japanese dental clinic PureCure in Tokyo's Roppongi offers procedures that can give you yaeba for a mere ¥9,800 (US$123) plus tax per snaggle. The procedure doesn't involve any shaving on your real tooth as the yaeba are glued on, meaning you can easily have them removed once you tired of your newfangled look.
Those getting capped fangs (tsuke yaeba) apparently hope to look like pop stars or idols. "I always yearned for yaeba like (former Morning Musume singers) Ai Kago or Nozomi Tsuji have," one patient told Tokyo Sports. "At first, the yaeba felt uncomfortable, but now I'm totally used to it."
According to PureCure, the number of women—usually in their teens and twenties—getting the caps starting increasingly last year, with "several hundreds" getting their snaggleteeth at PureCure.
And now, there's even a snaggletooth pop group dubbed TYB48—a play on popular girl group AKB48. Backed by PureCure, TYB48 doesn't have 48 members, but features a trio of yaeba girls who sing gooey pop music and recently made their debut in Tokyo's geek mecca Akihabara with their first single, "It's Fine if I Bite You?" Whether or not this group leaves a mark, however, remains to be seen.