Joanie Clothing Golden Girl sweater

In Search of the Perfect Smile : How I’m Fixing My Gummy Smile (& other issues)

Golden Girl slogan sweaterOther than my house and my car, in the course of my adult life, my biggest investment by far has been in my teeth.

Actually, scratch that: I’m pretty sure I’ve spent more on my teeth than I did on my car at this point. And, OK, it was a used car, so it’s not like I’m into double digits or anything like that, but… I could easily get there. And it would be worth it.

This week, though, I handed over what felt, to me, like a vast sum of money, in order to have MORE work done on my teeth. And, as terrifying as that was (This girl and her money are not easily parted. Like, not even for shoes, these days. WHO EVEN AM I?). what I said above holds true: I know it will be worth it.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Look, here’s an outfit shot!

Joanie Clothing Golden Girl sweaterMy cosmetic dentistry journey started when I was 17 years old, and it started with a peg tooth. Which, yes, is a tooth shaped like a peg, thanks for asking. In addition to being abnormally pointy, peg teeth also tend to be abnormally small (Some people get all the luck, huh?), and, in my case, mine was SO small that, when I smiled – and I always tried my best NOT to – it basically just looked like I had a missing tooth. And it was right next to my front teeth, too, so it was NOT subtle. It made me feel a bit like Cletus, the Slack-Jawed Yokel, which is just what every teenage girl dreams of, right?

By my 17th birthday, I was so painfully self-conscious about the whole “peg tooth” situation that, in addition to NEVER SMILING, I’d also developed the habit of holding one hand awkwardly over my mouth any time I had to speak to someone face-to-face. To this day, I have to consciously stop myself doing this: I haven’t seen that peg tooth in two decades, but I STILL automatically turn my head to the side when someone tries to take a photo of me, and my hand still always wants to creep up and hover over the side of my mouth when I’m speaking. That’s how self-conscious I was about that stupid tooth, and, finally my whining about it paid off, and my parents grudgingly agreed to pay to have it fixed.

So, I went to see my local dentist, who agreed to fit a porcelain veneer on the offending tooth – and also onto the one next to it, because it now transpired that the gap between the peg tooth and its neighbour had grown so large that one veneer wouldn’t be enough.

As it turned out, TWO veneers weren’t enough either, though: because, once they’d been fitted, I now had a normal sized tooth … but there was still a noticeable gap.

“There’s no way to close this gap,” the dentist told me, sadly. “I’d have to make two HUGE veneers, and then you’d just look like you had teeth like a horse!” Or, you know, words to that effect.

So, I went on my merry way. At first, the difference between peg tooth and normal tooth seemed so dramatic to me that I was perfectly happy with my transformation. But the seed had been sown. I’d always assumed my horrible teeth were just something I’d have to live with, but now it seemed this was not so! There were, in fact, ways to fix my teeth, and all it would take would be every penny I ever made, and a willingness to potentially look a bit like a horse.

I was ALL IN, people. Because, now that I really thought about it, the peg tooth was not my only dental issue, and now that it was finally a normal size, I discovered that I actually hated ALL of my teeth equally. They were yellow. And crooked. My top teeth were almost completely overshadowed by ALL THE GUMS around them, while the bottom set looked a bit like a row of crooked tombstones. It wasn’t pretty, let’s put it that way.

There were, however, ways to fix all of these problems, and I made it my mission to basically work my way through all of them.

Over the next two decades, I had the original veneers replaced twice. I used Invisalign braces to straighten my bottom teeth, and to finally – FINALLY – close that gap. I tried so many different types of tooth whitening treatment that I could literally write a book on the subject. (I won’t, though: I’m planning a blog post on it, instead…) I got to a point where I no longer wanted to burst into tears every time I looked in the mirror, and that was such a novel feeling for me that, at the time, I described the work I’d done as the best money I’d ever spent.


Yeah, you knew it was coming, didn’t you?

Joanie Clothing 'Vega' sweatshirt with black pencil skirtOver the last couple of years, I’ve been increasingly unhappy with my smile again. My teeth have started to discolour after the last round of whitening – especially the bottom teeth, which have been the unfortunate victims of my caffeine addiction. I was never totally happy with the shade of the veneers I had fitted to Peg Tooth & Pal, and I don’t love the shape of my other top teeth, either. Worst of all? ALL THE GUMS. And, I mean, I’ve always had a really gummy smile, but lately it’s all I see when I look at unstaged photos of myself (In all of my blog photos, I’m doing a “fake” version of my real smile, in which I have to really concentrate on not letting my upper lip go up too far: if you ever see me smiling naturally, all you’d see is gum. You’d think I was a person made entirely of gums, not even joking.), and it’s been starting to affect my confidence in a way that feels all too familiar to me. Once again, I’ve been finding myself avoiding cameras (Other than the ones I’m prepared for, obviously…), trying not to smile too much, and constantly wanting to put a hand in front of my mouth when I speak.

And that’s no way to live, is it?

What I want – what I really, REALLY want – is a zig-a-zig-ah proper, Hollywood smile. In fact, scratch that: what I want is a Love Island smile. No! Not that one! Just totally perfect, natural looking teeth. Is that REALLY too much to ask?

Well, earlier this year, I decided to find out, so I took myself off to Glasgow’s Dentistry on the Square, and asked them to please, just FIX ME.

And that’s what they’re going to do.

I picked this particular dental practice because a quick look at their website revealed them to be the absolute best in their field. They’ve won countless awards, worked with tons of celebrities, and – best of all – do free consultations, during which you can basically just present them with a laundry list of things you want to fix, and let them tell you what they can and can’t do.

In my case?

They could do pretty much ALL of it: which was honestly something of a revelation to me, because I’d basically gone in expecting to be told I was stuck with my gummy smile for life.

I’m not, though.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been having my teeth whitened using the Englighten tooth whitening system (Yes, I’ll be reviewing it soon…), and, once that’s done, I’ll be going on to have a complete smile makeover, involving gum contouring, veneers, and whatever else it takes to get me to that Love Island Hollywood smile I’ve been trying to achieve for most of my adult life.

I’m excited.

I’m also kind of terrified, really, because while I don’t really have a fear of the dentist (Which always surprises people when they hear it. I guess it’s just the kind of thing you’d expect from me?), it WILL be a big change, and even although I know it’ll be a change for the better, any kind of change to your appearance is always a little bit daunting, isn’t it?

(Also, while I’m assured it’ll be totally pain free, the words “gum contouring” don’t exactly thrill me, let’s be honest…)

Mostly, though, I’m just looking forward to – for the first time in my life – being able to laugh and smile naturally, without worrying that I’m going to blind someone with my gums. That’s got to make it all worthwhile, hasn’t it?

Oh, and I will, of course, be documenting the entire process here on the blog: so if you, too, have spent a large part of your life wishing you could basically just start over with your smile, stay tuned to find out how I get on…

pin-up inspired outfit featuring gold slogan sweater with black pencil skirt and boots

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  • Linda


    Did you know Botox can be used to stop your upper lip going up preventing gummy smile? It’s really effective.

    October 24, 2018
  • I am not happy with my teeth either, they are a little crooked and yellow so ill see what you report and then decide if I want to invest myself.

    Anne – Linda, Libra, Loca

    October 24, 2018
  • Love this outfit! And look forward to hearing about your tooth journey x

    October 24, 2018
  • Brenda


    I totally get you on this. Growing up, and into my late twenties, I had crooked top teeth. I felt they were so bad that I refused to show my teeth when I smiled, making my smile look, well, nonexistent. In fact, in my wedding photos, a friend asked me if I hated smiling. Anyway, when I hit my 30’s, I decided to do something about it. I went to an orthodontist who put braces on. I wore them for about a year and it was the best thing I ever did. Totally worth it. Looking forward to seeing what you have done. I’m most curious about the gum contouring. I haven’t heard of that.

    October 24, 2018
  • Fiona


    I had a peg tooth too! Although in my case it was an extra one, which forced the tooth in front of it to grow out rather than down, leaving me with a snaggle tooth and a gap. Attractive. So I’ve had that fixed and one round of whitening and I TOTALLY get how you could hate your smile. Which makes you not smile as much and turns out that deliberately not smiling can really affect your mood. Will follow with interest!

    October 24, 2018