“Turkey Teeth” Have Gone Viral. But Is This Version of Pearly Whites Safe?

The latest trend in cosmetic surgery is Turkey Teeth. Though, at first, a very strange and ugly bird comes to mind, the “Turkey” is actually for the country, which is the most popular place in the world to have this procedure done due to its extremely low cost. But we’ve all seen the pictures of Instagram influencers with their teeth all ground down before the crowns are placed; can you really blame us for thinking about the bird, though?

So, What are Turkey Teeth?

Essentially a blitzkrieg version of traditional cosmetic tooth crowns, getting Turkey Teeth consists of grinding down your teeth into little nubs and fitting custom crowns to them. But these go way further; the aesthetic of this teeth trend is perfectly-square, perfectly-symmetrical, true-white. Influencers, and now their followers alike are flocking to Turkey to get these crowns.

And this whole thing isn’t just about aesthetic; after all, you can get a full set of custom cosmetic crowns right here in the US. Pretty much everywhere in Canada in Europe, too. But in most countries, a full set of crowns can cost up to $25,000 US, where, in Turkey, you can have it done for as low as $1500 US, and there are no prerequisites – anyone can hop on a plane and get these perfect pearly whites.

Are Turkey Teeth Ethical?

If this sounds too good to be true, it’s because it is. There’s a reason a UK dentist will scoff at the idea of replacing all a 25-year-old’s teeth with crowns solely to make them whiter – it’s ethically questionable, at best. So much of the tooth is filed down to take a crown, the process is irreversible. As well, 3D scans and thorough exams need to be performed before you do such an invasive procedure on the mouth, and with virality of the Turkey Teeth trend those vital safety measures are skipped all too often.

In the US, if you were to visit your oral surgeon and express dissatisfaction with the shade and symmetry of your smile, they would suggest a treatment route that combines the least-invasive tooth restoration methods possible. Maybe a professional whitening, a few veneers, and maybe a crown or two, if totally necessary. But a short flight to Turkey and they’ll do it for 1/10th the price, no questions asked.

Is This Crown & Denture Procedure Safe?

Sometimes, this procedure works out for people, and they come home with a perfect smile, memories of a beautiful country, and a newfound self-confidence. But there are a significant amount of people who are experiencing devastating consequences from their crowning procedure. It’s getting real.

Crowning a tooth to restore its appearance isn’t the big deal; the big deal is it’s the whole mouth, and people are having it done so early in life, with no real knowledge of long-term risks or replacement expenses. Installing a cosmetic crown to a tooth requires the oral surgeon to file the tooth down to about 70% of what it should be. That means all the enamel is completely gone, as is most of the dentin, which is all that’s standing between your inner tooth pulp and the open air.

When done correctly, things are usually fine. But the issue there is that some of these “oral surgeons” are just jumping on the bandwagon, trying to make as much money as possible. There have been cases where patients have gone in for veneers, only to have this irrevocable procedure done without their prior knowledge. There have also been cases where unethical dentists did undue damage to all the teeth, leading to almost immediate and unrelenting pain that makes it hard to talk, smile or chew.

The procedure itself is painful, with all-too-common stories of patients writhing in dentist chairs as they hammer and drill away. In addition, there is a high instance of tooth death with Turkey Teeth. Once tooth dies or is otherwise complicated by an abscess or infection (also common risks), you have to have a root canal. And after, you’ll need some kind of replacement tooth, like a dental implant or single-tooth bridge. Other patients report constant pain and chronic mouth infections within a year of their Turkey Teeth procedure.

So, the answer of whether or not this trend is safe is really a matter of consumer recklessness and professional disregard for long-term oral health. It’s also a question of necessity; why not just get a few veneers if you don’t like the look of your smile? It’s so much less invasive and your teeth are left intact, still with enamel. Or bonding for several chipped teeth, which adds to your teeth to repair small breaks. Your slightly-stained teeth are not drastic times; don’t take drastic measures. All you’ll get in the end is a short-term appearance boost and long-term oral pain and health defects.