Once upon a Halloween, children would innocently pat flour on their cheeks, giving themselves a fun, vampire-like hue. Some youngsters would even spend their nickels and dimes on a jar of ghoulish green face paint — the final touch in a spooky Frankenstein outfit.
Nowadays, youngsters all across the country are blacking out their teeth — not just one or two, but entire rows. If you don’t believe me, then you’re obviously not watching “The Today Show.”
Why would anyone allow their children to black out their precious teeth? Does no one remember the time before modern dental care, when by the age of ten few people had anything but pink gums to show? I vividly remember being a child at large Thanksgiving dinners, and I was roundly congratulated for being the only one with teeth.
There’s nothing funny about Thanksgiving without turkey — just mashed potatoes, and more mashed potatoes. What laughs can be found by mocking those who have lost their vital means of mastication?
In the past, a young person had to steal his mother’s eyeliner, or his father’s shoe polish, to black out his teeth. Nowadays, every Walmart and neighborhood costume shop offers non-toxic black teeth paint. If you go online, you can order theatrical black enamel that keeps our children’s beautiful teeth black for days on end.
The worst part is that this practice is no longer just for Halloween. Teenagers all across the country are secretly blacking out their teeth before heading off to school. They think they’re being rebellious. “Look at me,” they’re trying to say. “I’m so cool and grown-up that my teeth fell out.”
I’ve read that some teenagers are are throwing “black-teeth parties” in which they take drugs, listen to dubstep, and gargle black house paint. One truly demented individual even created a website dedicated to photos of scantily-clad female partygoers — with not just their teeth blacked out, but their tongues as well.
We parents need to take a stand and say enough is enough. If you have children, hide your black shoe polish. Throw out your eyeliner. Inspect your children for blueish gums — telltale signs. If you sense they have been blacking out their teeth, talk to them. Show them old photos and remind them that until around the year 1920, people didn’t have teeth, not like we have today. If they were lucky, they had little nubs that resembled nothing more than lumpy, infected gums.
We must tackle this problem together. Our children’s teeth are the future, and the future should be bright.
Leah Kidwell is a concerned parent from Orlando, Florida.