Heng Chamnan, 24, had her two front teeth elongated and a Skyce jewel put on.
"Diamonds are forever; 'Skyce' is just for fun," reads a promotional poster
in Apsara Dental Clinic.
The sign features a toothy mouth, glossed lips and one of Cambodia's latest dental
fashions - a "Skyce" jewel glued to the left incisor.
"Around two years ago, girls started coming to my office asking for diamonds,"
said Dr. Tieng Chhnoeum, a dentist at the clinic. "But I recommend Skyce [fake
jewels] instead because you don't have to drill a hole. It's just like a sticker."
In their quests for aesthetic perfection, young women have started to spend more
time - and money - at the dentist's. In a country where childhood dental care may
be inadequate, girls often feel self-conscious about prematurely worn teeth, Chhnoeum
So they decide to decorate.
"It makes your teeth more beautiful," said Men Sorya, who had a Skyce imported
from the tiny European nation of Liechtenstein a year ago. The false gem twinkles
brightly, even though Sorya's teeth look older than her 21 years. "When people
see my teeth, they look only at the jewel."
Girls have started to make less flashy upgrades as well. During the last six months,
dentists have experienced an influx of clients asking to have their two front teeth
Heng Chamnan, 24, proudly wears a Skyce, but is even happier about her new long teeth.
"They give me confidence," she said. "They look natural, like when
I was a child."
Many girls feel similarly, Chhnoeum said. Because children's teeth appear larger
in proportion to their small heads, girls think big teeth make them look younger.
"Sometimes it's because of decay that they have short teeth," Chhnoeum
said. "But sometimes it's just because they are adults."
Dr. Ieng Piseth, a dentist at Pachem Dental Clinic, said Cambodians often have small
front teeth, but girls will watch Western movies and want to copy the foreign stars'
He usually charges around $15 to elongate their teeth using dental composite, but
said he always warns girls about the potential hazards.
"Teeth so long and large are not very stable," he said. "They can
The girls' response: "'I don't care, just give me long teeth,'" he said,
When Chamnan first had her teeth elongated, it was difficult to chew and the composite
felt strange in her mouth, she said.
Now, they seem like normal teeth.
"People come up to me all the time and compliment my teeth," she said.
"My friends want to have theirs made more beautiful, too."