Toddlers, Tiaras and Flippers

Beauty pageants


Beauty pageants have always been as much a competition of beauty as they are of confidence. Even the most stunning contestant can be undone by appearing nervous or making even the slightest mistake. When so much is placed on outer appearance, the slightest crack in the veneer can shatter the whole image.

Beauty pageants have had for some time their detractors. Critics denounce it as reinforcing the idea that girls and women should be valued mainly for their physical appearance. That it places incredible pressure on not only the contestants, but girls in general to strive for physical ‘perfection’—to the point of it being dangerous.

This a dental flipper for a child who’s missing just one of her front teeth. These aren’t false teeth you buy at a costume store.

A new controversy has arisen, however, in the world of pageants. Toddler pageants that is. After watching an episode of Toddlers & Tiaras, this writer wanted the whole institution destroyed and the cast of the show exiled to a barren atoll in the Pacific. But that’s beside the point. The new controversy is over a dental prosthetic called a flipper.

A dental flipper is a set of false front teeth that contestants wear during beauty pageants.  The contestants are at the age when many teeth are falling out. They wear these flippers to cover up such blemishes. But the flippers are being used for more than just lost teeth. They’re used to cover small teeth, yellow teeth, or teeth that just look off.

Perfect example of a dental flipper’s effect.

These flippers may be for kids, but they’re far from cheap. They require the child to get a dental impression. The impression is then sent to a lab that typically takes 2 weeks to make them. And you’d better ask around because some labs will send you back shoddy work at a high price.

As if the toddlers in these pageants don’t look fake enough, now they’ve got one more thing to add to the lie. Controversy over them focuses mainly on how fake they look and their affect on the child’s ego. These two points though can really be applied to toddler pageants as a whole, but I won’t digress.

One cannot imagine the long term effects that toddler pageants do to girls’ self-esteem as they grow up.

Flippers hardly help a child’s self-esteem (which is probably already stretched to the breaking point by their parents). They basically are saying, “your teeth are ugly so we need to cover them up.” It’s a shame to create such an over-awareness of self-image at such a young age.

Fortunately, flippers are not necessary in pageants. In some of the more sane contests, they’re banned. There are also ‘natural’ beauty pageants that tone down the synthetic glitz you see in shows like Toddlers & Tiaras. Still the fact that an article has to be written at all about ‘pageant flippers’ only increases my worry for humanity’s future.

 Dr. Sam Sadati is the owner and practitioner of The Sadati Center of Aesthetic Dentistry in West Palm Beach and a leader in the world of cosmetic dentistry and smile design. He is the only accredited cosmetic dentist in all of South Florida and is one of only forty dentists in the world to receive an Accredited Fellow honor from the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD).  Apart from creating beautiful smiles, Dr. Sadati enjoys photography, travel, and the opportunity to tell a good joke.  If you have a question or comment, dental-related or otherwise, connect with us on Facebook or Twitter. We always reply to our fans and followers!