Artist Embraces David Bowie’s Natural Teeth, but Bowie Has Moved on

It’s a very common complaint about artists that seek to reinvent themselves at several times over the course of their careers: the belief that they have “sold out” or become less authentic than they were at an earlier point in their career. It seems that an artist has recently tried to make that kind of statement about David Bowie by creating a replica of his natural teeth, as seen in the Ziggy Stardust days, but we might ask whether Bowie’s new teeth are any less authentic than his earlier, crooked teeth.

Reconstructing Visibly Bad Teeth

dreamstime_s_27535261David Bowie is a unique artist in that he has always been as much about the visual as the audio. Indeed, this is part of what made Ziggy Stardust such a remarkable break from what had come before: it was Bowie’s belief that music should “look how it sounds,” and with his Ziggy Stardust character, Bowie created one particular version of that.

And his teeth are an important part of that. One of the most famous images from those early days captures Bowie biting Mick Ronson’s guitar, foregrounding the role his distinctive teeth played in constructing that inimitable (though many have tried) persona.

It is perhaps not surprising, then, that an artist would focus on the teeth as being iconic of Bowie’s original moment and his true, honest oeuvre. The work on the reconstruction is exquisite. Using denture materials, she has reconstructed the crooked, gapped, and discolored dentition that Bowie sported at this time.

But, as it turns out, moving beyond this smile was both necessary and vital for moving beyond the Stardust period.

Retiring Bad Teeth

It is striking that at the end of D.A. Pennebaker’s film Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, Bowie announces his retirement. Of course, Bowie isn’t announcing his retirement–he’s announcing the retirement of the Ziggy persona, and, it turns out, that also meant retiring the crooked, discolored smile. Because for his next incarnation, the slick popster behind Let’s Dance, Bowie needed to show a different smile. Now his teeth were whiter, and brighter, probably because of teeth whitening. These new teeth were more consistent with his new performance style.

And he reinvented his teeth still further, probably with porcelain veneers, as part of his continued change into the center of his own microcosmos. No longer just a Starman waiting in the sky, he had become a bona fide star, and with his marriage to the model Iman, he had entered the rarefied realms of the world’s most beautiful people, and new teeth were required of him.

Although we can still be nostalgic for the Bowie of the Ziggy Stardust days, we have to acknowledge that Bowie’s life is perhaps his greatest performance piece, and expecting him to continue doing the same performance for four decades would not only be limiting for him, it would be unrewarding for us.

If you are considering reinventing your smile as well as your life, we can help. Please call 303-759-5652 for an appointment with a Denver cosmetic dentist at Park Meadows Dental Care.

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