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The Surprising Secrets Behind the Iconic Smiles of Hollywood’s Golden Age

When we think of Hollywood’s Golden Age, we think of glamorous movie premieres and iconic celebrity smiles. What added to the glamour was a certain mystique that surrounded movie stars back then, one that’s less so now. However, the allure of those famous smiles often hid some not-so-pretty dental secrets. From Clark Gable’s dentures to Joan Crawford’s fake straight teeth, the Innovative Orthodontic Centers team gives you a peek behind the curtain at the surprising dental histories of some of Old Hollywood’s most famous smiles.

Clark Gable: The King of Hollywood and His Dental Woes

Clark Gable, known as “The King of Hollywood,” charmed audiences with his charismatic roles and perfect smile. Yet, behind the scenes, he had struggled with severe dental issues. By the time he was 32 and filming some of his most famous movies, he was wearing dentures, having lost most of his teeth to gum disease. He experienced severe periodontitis in 1933, which resulted in his dentist extracting most of his teeth. After recovering in the hospital, Clark retreated to Canada to rest and allow his gums to heal for denture treatment. Unfortunately, his gum disease flared up after he got dentures, which led to him being hospitalized and having his gallbladder removed.

Apparently, this dental situation contributed to his notorious bad breath, which, legend has it, was a complaint among his co-stars. Despite these challenges, his smile transformation for the camera led to one of Hollywood’s most beloved celebrity smiles, though his fans remained none the wiser about how he got there.

Marlene Dietrich: A Star’s Extreme Method for the Perfect Smile

Marlene Dietrich, the beautiful German-American actress known for her striking appearance and voice, reportedly took dramatic steps to enhance her famous smile. The Hollywood studio system at the time was known to pressure their stars to improve their appearance. Rumor has it that Dietrich went to the dentist to remove her molars to give her cheeks a more hollow, sculpted look. While this may sound like one of the more extreme smile transformations today, it’s an example of the lengths some stars would go to show off straight teeth and maintain their perfect celebrity smiles.

Love Old Hollywood but also want to test your knowledge of today’s most famous smiles? Try this fun quiz we created!

Joan Crawford: Dental Perfectionist

Joan Crawford was another Old Hollywood star credited with one of Old Hollywood’s best celebrity smiles, one that captivated millions. But behind her beautiful appearance, she had a few dental “skeletons in the closet.” Like Marlene Dietrich, Crawford was also reported to have removed her back molars to slim down her face. This procedure caused dental health issues down the road.

After her molars were removed, the spacing of her remaining teeth was not to her liking, so she had them filed down and capped for the appearance of straight teeth. However, the procedure eventually caused a gum infection that led to a permanently swollen upper lip. She eventually became known for her full upper lip, a look not sought after at the time, but it created a distinctive look that served her well. Crawford continued to enjoy a successful screen career, though in her late 60s, major dental surgery required serious medical care.

Your Naperville/Shorewood Orthodontist: Modern Smile Transformations

While Hollywood’s Golden Age stars went to great lengths for their perfect smiles, today’s techniques for achieving a stunning grin are safe and much more accessible. At Innovative Orthodontic Centers, we can transform your smile with ease and comfort. Whether you’re looking for straight teeth through orthodontics like the modern Suresmile braces or Invisalign® clear aligners we offer, our Shorewood/Naperville orthodontist team has you covered.

Dr. Ibrahim and Dr. Gin combine state-of-the-art orthodontic solutions like self-ligating braces and Invisalign® clear aligners with a deep understanding of aesthetic perfection. And as the #1 Invisalign Provider in Illinois, you can have confidence that if you opt for clear aligner treatment, you’re in the hands of experienced orthodontists who can make your smile dreams come true.

Make an appointment to visit us, your Shorewood and Naperville orthodontist, and start your path to a Hollywood-worthy grin today!