Teeth are one of the first things that people use to judge the appearance and status of others, so it's no wonder that people have long modified their teeth to be appear more attractive or wealthy. Here are two methods of tooth modification that might seem modern and extreme but actually bear similarities to ancient cosmetic tooth alterations.

Grills & Gemstones

You're probably aware of grills: they became popular in the early 2000s, but have been around since the 1980s. While methods vary, they usually involve anchoring silver, gold, or platinum to the teeth. They're usually only temporarily attached, but can be affixed permanently if desired. They're intended to make a statement and show off one's wealth.

You might be surprised to know that this particular type of aesthetic enhancement originated over 2,500 years ago. Skulls unearthed in Mexico revealed teeth embedded with semi-precious stones like jade. Forensic anthropologists believe that the gems were attached with a mixture of plant sap or another sticky resin as well as crushed bone.

Interestingly enough, it's believed that the ancient fad wasn't directly connected to wealth or power, as remains of ancient Mayan royals didn't have any kind of tooth decorations.

Beastly Teeth & Human Tooth Sharpening

In this day and age, some people have modified their teeth through cosmetic dentistry to give themselves fangs or sharp, animal-like teeth. Some people do this just for the aesthetic appeal, but others do it to replicate the appearance of vampires and werewolves. While this type of body modification is often done with temporary adhesive fangs, it can also be achieved with permanent veneers and crowns.

Surprisingly, this isn't new either. However, rather than fitting veneers or crowns over teeth to create the sharpened tooth modification, ancient cultures simply sharpened the teeth down to pointy ends. Some cultures like the Wapare did it to imitate the teeth of sharks, presumably to increase their strength.

Some cultures actually did it to reduce the monster within: in Bali even to this day, a ceremony called matatah is performed in which the canine teeth are shaved down. The canine teeth are thought to be manifestations of the shadripu, or six enemies within, and shaving them down allows the person to live a good and noble life.

So if you're thinking of having your teeth modified, rest assured: you're following millennia-old tradition. A cosmetic dentist like David Jackson, DDS can modify your teeth to improve your looks, bring out your inner wild creature or show off your wealth.