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Teeth blackening or teeth lacquering is a custom of dyeing one's teeth black. It was most predominantly practiced in Southeast Asian and Oceanic cultures, particularly among Austronesian, Austroasiatic, and Kra-Dai-speaking peoples. It was also practiced in Japan prior to the Meiji era, as well as in India. It was also performed among some groups in the Americas, most notably among the Shuar people of northern Peru and Ecuador. Teeth blackening is commonly confused with the red-stained teeth from betel chewing. However, betel chewing damages the teeth and gums, while teeth blackening does not.

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  • Teeth blackening or teeth lacquering is a custom of dyeing one's teeth black. It was most predominantly practiced in Southeast Asian and Oceanic cultures, particularly among Austronesian, Austroasiatic, and Kra-Dai-speaking peoples. It was also practiced in Japan prior to the Meiji era, as well as in India. It was also performed among some groups in the Americas, most notably among the Shuar people of northern Peru and Ecuador. Teeth blackening is usually done during puberty. It was primarily done to preserve the teeth into old age, as it prevents tooth decay similar to the mechanism of modern dental sealants. It was seen as a sign of maturity, beauty, and civilization. A common belief is that blackened teeth differentiated humans from animals. Teeth blackening is often done in conjunction with traditions of tooth sharpening and evulsion, as well as other body modification customs like tattoos. Teeth blackening and filing were regarded with fascination and disapproval by early European explorers and colonists. The practice survives in some isolated ethnic groups in Southeast Asia and Oceania but has mostly disappeared after the introduction of Western beauty standards during the colonial era, and continues among many minority groups in China, Pacific Islands and Southeast Asia. It is mainly prevalent in older women, though the practice is still carried on by some younger women. Sometimes artificial teeth are used to achieve blackened teeth. Teeth blackening is commonly confused with the red-stained teeth from betel chewing. However, betel chewing damages the teeth and gums, while teeth blackening does not. (en)
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  • Teeth blackening or teeth lacquering is a custom of dyeing one's teeth black. It was most predominantly practiced in Southeast Asian and Oceanic cultures, particularly among Austronesian, Austroasiatic, and Kra-Dai-speaking peoples. It was also practiced in Japan prior to the Meiji era, as well as in India. It was also performed among some groups in the Americas, most notably among the Shuar people of northern Peru and Ecuador. Teeth blackening is commonly confused with the red-stained teeth from betel chewing. However, betel chewing damages the teeth and gums, while teeth blackening does not. (en)
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  • Teeth blackening (en)
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