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Cropped image of a woman with buck teeth.Cropped image of a woman with buck teeth.

Why Buck Teeth Are No Laughing Matter

By: BeSeen Team

Date: February 26, 2024

Buck teeth are often a subject of ridicule and humour in pop culture. From classic cartoons to Hollywood blockbusters, various media depict characters with this dental feature as unattractive or unserious. They are the klutz, jester, airhead, or sidekick who provides comic relief.

While this portrayal may be entertaining, it conceals the reality that having buck teeth is a serious dental condition. It’s a malocclusion (teeth misalignment) where the top front teeth jut forward beyond the bottom front teeth, creating numerous problems. Indeed, behind the laughter are adverse issues that can impact individuals physically and emotionally.

Buck-Toothed Characters in Mass Media 

Olaf smiling against a snow backdrop.
Count on characters like Frozen’s Olaf to warm your mood with their sunny disposition and buck-toothed smiles.

Mass media is brimming with unforgettable characters with buck-toothed smiles. Here are some you’ve likely encountered from watching cartoon shows and movies or reading comics and novels

  • Goofy: This classic Disney character is silly, clumsy, and endearing all at once.
  • Olaf: You can count on this snowman to cheer you up with a warm hug. His humour and wit got the sisters of Arendelle through an eternal winter, but it was his buck-toothed smile that melted their hearts.
  • Simple Jack: This lovable character is a simple farmhand with intellectual disabilities and a unique ability to talk to animals.
  • Timmy Turner: The Fairly OddParents depicts its protagonist as an unpopular kid with large overjet teeth and a victim of neglect, torture, and bullying.
  • Chuckie Finster: This red-haired, eyeglass-wearing, and buck-toothed Rugrats main character is a picture of comedic cowardice throughout the series.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: Whether under the sea or on dry land, this Nickelodeon star wins fans with his funny antics and facial expressions that make good use of his overjet teeth.
  • Hermione Granger: Sporting protruding teeth, the young Muggle-born Hogwarts student faced a lack of seriousness from others. Midway through the Harry Potter series, the story depicts a shift in her dental features and, consequently, how others perceive her.

Beyond this list of well-loved individuals, there are also supporting characters with prominent dental protrusions. Think of Donkey from Shrek, Sid from Ice Age, or the “Ugly Duckling” Abby Mallard of Chicken Little. In Finding Nemo, Kathy is the buck-toothed spotted fish who stands out in their school for the wrong reason. And if you watch Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen closely, you might catch Skids, the foolish and impulsive gangster wannabe with an overjet.

How Pop Culture Portrays Buck Teeth 

SpongeBob SquarePants smiling against a yellow background.
Do you know a SpongeBob in real life? Someone happy-go-lucky but clumsy and impulsive?

Unfortunately, these characters contribute to certain stereotypes associated with individuals who have buck teeth in real life. While they can bring joy to various situations, they are sometimes depicted as quirky, accident-prone, and nerdy. These portrayals may inadvertently reinforce the idea that having protruding teeth links to qualities like clumsiness, awkwardness, and foolishness. Thus, it’s essential to recognise that these depictions are fictional and exaggerated for comedic purposes, possibly bearing little to no resemblance to reality.

Why Buck Teeth Aren’t Funny 

Media’s reinforcement of the buck teeth stereotype can gravely impact the self-esteem (and mental health!) of someone with the dental feature. The misalignment alone can take a toll on one’s confidence. What more with pop culture making it a source of shame?

Children with overjet teeth are particularly vulnerable to teasing and bullying because of their appearance, fostering feelings of inadequacy. This emotional toll can persist into adulthood and affect one’s social interactions, relationships, and overall well-being.

Making fun of protruding teeth also shifts the discussion away from the condition’s dental and health consequences. A study in the Journal of Orthodontics emphasises that complications may arise if the misalignment is left untreated – proving that it is no laughing matter.

Buck teeth, in some cases, may lead to: 

  • Speech difficulties
  • Difficulties eating or chewing
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Dental trauma
  • Teeth grinding
  • Jaw problems

How to Fix Buck Teeth 

A woman with braces getting a dental checkup.
Turn to orthodontics to move your overjet teeth into their proper position.

You may wonder, can you get rid of buck teeth? Thankfully, there are several treatment options you can explore with your dentist to set your teeth into their proper position. Work with your doctor to determine the appropriate solution for your situation.

They might recommend palate expanders, which are attached to the upper molars, or traditional metal braces. If you’re looking for a more discreet and non-invasive option, ask your doctor about invisible aligners like ClearCorrect. They’re the preferred choice for those with busy schedules as they require fewer visits to the dentist.

Buck teeth may be a serious concern; don’t let media downplay their impact. If you’re dealing with this condition, recognise its real consequences and potential health risks beyond the stereotypes. Schedule a visit to your dentist and let a perfect smile be the biggest plot twist of your life.

 

References:

Baum, A. (2023, November 6). Impact of Pacifiers & Thumb Sucking on Children’s Teeth. American Association of Orthodontists. 

Leck, R., Paul, N., Rolland, S., & Birnie, D. (2021). The consequences of living with a severe malocclusion: A review of the literature. Journal of Orthodontics, 49(2), 228–239.

Lombardo, G., Vena, F., Negri, P., Pagano, S., Barilotti, C., Paglia, L., Colombo, S., Orso, M., & Cianetti, S. (2020). Worldwide prevalence of malocclusion in the different stages of dentition: A systematic review and meta-analysis. PubMed, 21(2), 115–122. 

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