The Process of Automating Tooth Segmentation & Identification from Dental Radiographs
Automating the process of tooth segmentation and identification from dental radiographs is essential to perform any further analysis on dental x-rays. Teeth segmentation from dental radiographic images is an essential step for any type of dental image automation. It is one of the most challenging aspect in the image processing of dental radiographs. In this paper, a mathematical morphological approach of teeth segmentation is proposed. Further, proposed is the use of Histogram of Oriented Gradients(HOG’s) and image invariants to use as features for training classifiers. The results using the two approaches as features are compared. The classification of images into molar and premolar has been done on manually cropped images. This paper is an attempt to use both segmentation and classification on segmented periapical x-ray images. The forensic odonatological applications of this approach is wide and of immense benefits in both forensic and biometric identification.Index Terms— Dental image processing, histogram oriented gradients, teeth segmentation, teeth classification.
Recent disasters have emphasized the significance of automated dental identification systems. Statistics show that 75% of Tsunami victims in Thailand were similarly identified using dental records, compared to 0.5% identified using DNA. This paper addresses the two important problems of an Automated Dental Identification System (ADIS). This system matches image features extracted from multiple dental radiographic records. Dental radiograph record of an individual usually consists of radiographic films. It is an essential step to accurately segment these films from their constituent dental records in order to extract the dental features and achieve high level of automated postmortem identification. In this paper, an automated approach is proposed to the problem of segmenting films from their radiographs and then to classify the teeth using various features. Challenges include the poor quality of dental radiographs, variety of angles used for the x rays and lack of distinctive features in images. This approach is based on concepts of enhancement, connectivity, mathematical morphology and feature extraction for training and classification. A benchmark for classification of tooth as molar and premolar using the constructed data set is also proposed here.
Materials and Methods
Related works. Research and works on Hu’s moment invariants are discussed in this section. Works on tooth identification has been performed only on manually cropped images. The authors in  enhanced the X-ray image with histogram equalization. The teeth were segmented with the assistance of Otsu’s method and Hu’s moment invariants are calculated and are used as the teeth’s features. In their paper tooth recognition was done by feature matching with Euclidian distance. Jindan Zhouc et al.  used bitewing images and separated each tooth into crown and root. They developed a method to identify missing teeth areas as well as the shapes of teeth. The authors used adaptive segmentation to extract the teeth contours. The result of this method held a precision of 95% in the top five most similar images. A.K Jain et al in  segmented the upper jaw from the lower jaw by detecting the gap valley between them. Afterwards, the technique isolates each tooth from its neighbors in each jaw by detecting the gaps between them using intensity integral projection. This approach is semiautomated since an initial valley gap point is required to detect the gap valley between the upper and lower jaw. A fully automated approach for dental X-ray images is introduced by Abdel-Mottaleb et al .
The technique depends on improving the image contrast by applying morphological transformation, and then using the window based adaptive threshold and integral projection to segment the teeth and separate the upper and lower jaw. Nakintorn Pattanachai et al.  in 2012,proposed a method for tooth detection using Hu’s moment invariants using two set of x-ray images of a patient. They have manually cropped the dental x-rays to segment each tooth and then classified the tooth using image invariants to match it to a unique patient. In 2008, Guang-Yuan Zhang et al.  proposed a real-time eye detection method using Support Vector Machine (SVM) with Hu’s moment invariants. They used the video frame capture to binarize and heuristic rules to screen the contour. Then used them to find the Region Of Interest (ROI). They calculated Hu’s moment invariants of ROI and used SVM model for classification. This method achieved an average successful classification rate of 92.8%. In 2010, Ungkam larujareet et al.  used an ‘iris-blob map’ as a new feature for iris identification. The iris texture is enhanced with the Difference of Gaussian (DoG). The iris feature was a map consisting of iris blobs’ bounding rectangles and Hu’s moment invariants of the detected blobs.
A data base was constructed using the patient data from the patient records of Riyadh Elm University. The database contains periapical dental radiographs. This was done with ethical permission of the scientific board of Riyadh Elm University. The periapical x-rays were taken with Hellodent plus-Sirona/intraoral X-ray unit.Image segmentation utilizes a combination of two main methods: image enhancement using morphological filters and contour detection.The image is enhanced using adaptive histogram equalization.
TEnh ’(g) is greater than gamma for g in The image after enhancement has dark background pixels and bright bone and tooth filters. Top-hat and bottom-hat morphological filters are applied to this enhanced image. A top-hat filter performs enhances the white parts of the image i.e. teeth and bones and the bottom hat filter enhance the background. Top hat filtered image is added and bottom hat is subtracted to the contrast enhanced image to further enhance the image and highlight the region of interest. The post processed image is converted to binary image using a grayscale threshold obtained using the image histogram which clearly separates the background from the image. More morphological operations are performed on this image for separation of the background and bone pixels. ’clean’ , ’majoity’ , ’hbreak’ morphological fitters. Figure 2 shows the enhanced image ,top hat filtered result ,bottom hat filtered image and the enhanced image along with the top hat -bottom hat filtered result. Figure 3 depicts the binary conversion used. Figure 2: a) Enhanced image b)Top hat filter c)Bottom hat filter d)Enhanced image+top hat -bottom hat filter.Figure 3.Binary conversion used.The local morphological filters used and performed are the following functions on an 8 pixel neighborhood for every pixel clean: sets isolated pixels to 0
- hbreak: Removes H-connected pixels.
- majrity: Sets a pixel to 1 if five or more pixels in its 3-by-3 neighborhood are 1s; otherwise, it sets the pixel to 0.A connected component analysis is performed on this filtered image to identify different connected components from the image.
The segments which have more than 4000 pixels are experimentally identified as tooth and are stored as new images. This is shown in figure 4.Figure 4: Connected Component AnalysisUsing the segmented images obtained from the previous step tooth segments were extracted and manually labelled as molars and premolars. A total of 329 teeth (molar/premolars only) were segmented out of which 164 were molars and 165 premolars. These images were appropriately labelled.Histogram of oriented gradients were extracted from the images and used as a feature set for training linear SVM (Support Vector Machine). Support vector machine is a kind of learning model which look for the best decision boundary. This boundary is located between the two classes to classify. In support vector machines the decision boundary is chosen to be the one for which the margin is maximized. This margin is the shortest distance from the decision boundary and any train point . The technique counts occurrences of gradient orientation in localized portions of an image.
2.1.2. Classification using Hu’s InvariantsThis paper proposes to extract feature by using Hu’s moment invariants . Hu’s moment invariants can be classified as a shape descriptor which is used in computer vision.. It is based on the theory of algebraic invariants and derives to seven invariants. The basic idea is to describe objects by a set of measurable quantities called invariants and its invariant features on image translation, scaling and rotation. Hu’s moments are shown in 5. Hu’s invariant features were used to train linear.
Results and DiscussionThe approach of Hu’s invariants is as follows in the figure 5, and a result after segmentation is shown in figure 6. The results from segmentation are good enough to semi automate the procedure. Figure 5: Hu’s Invarients.Figure 6: Segmentation Results The main problem in segmentation error is the poor quality of some x-ray images. In some cases when the x rays had very good contrast teeth were segmented with 100% accuracy.Hu’s invariants provided much higher accuracy compared to histogram of oriented gradients. Another advantage of using moment invariants is the fact that it utilizes only 7 features for training as compared to 81 in HOG. Data is manually split into training and testing set and average accuracy is reported. A comparison between the two approaches in summarized in 1. 100 training images were used in each case and 64 and 65 test images respectively were used for molars and premolars.
The segmentation accuracy obtained is nominal but not optimal for complete automation of the segmentation process. Table 1. Shows the results of comparison. Further, the results using Hu’s invariants are promising and this can be used for unique tooth identification. Simultaneous work on multiple x rays of the same patient and train this classifier on the extracted features to uniquely identify the patient from the information is under progress. This work forms the basis of forensic odontology which has a lot of potential in human identification and related works.This should clearly explain the main conclusions of the work highlighting its importance and relevance.AcknowledgmentsI sincerely acknowledge the consistent support received from Riyadh Elm University(REU), Riyadh, Saudi Arabia All acknowledgments (if any) should be included at the very end of the paper before the references and may include supporting grants, presentations, and so forth.
Management of Fractured Front Teeth Following Accidental Trauma
Aesthetics is a very common and highly concerning aspect of modern world. Facial aesthetics comes 1st from that and we cannot ignore dental aesthetics of the face. Well aligned anterior teeth give pleasing smile, self-confidence, as well as the good function.
Dental trauma can be accompanied with injuries to facial hard tissues and soft tissues. Fracture to anterior teeth and lip trauma are more common facial traumatic injuries in all ages. Dental professional involve in management of patient immediately after the admition to emergency unit and then comprehensive management of the patient until the patent obtain an aesthetical improved and functionally acceptable teeth and occlusion.
Patient with dental trauma might have other injuries that could be more serious. They might have hit their head, lost consciousness, have injured the soft tissues of the face or might have broken their jaw. They should be referred to relevant specialist for their opinion & early management. In emergency care unit initially focus on more important life threatening injuries and it is often becomes impossible to provide appropriate treatment that may allow the affected front teeth to be saved. The preservation of intact permanent teeth is extremely important to the future life or personality of the affected person.
A 26 year old lactating mother was referred to Restorative Dentistry Unit, General Hospital Kandy from Oral and Maxillofacial surgery unit of the same hospital after initial management of accidental trauma. She was having pain and tenderness on broken upper anterior teeth, through and through laceration with swollen upper lip following accidentally fallen in bathroom at her home. At first she came to emergency unit Kandy and laceration sutured by OMF team and send to OMF ward for further management. Then she was referred to Restorative Dentistry Unit – Kandy for further management of traumatized teeth. She was fallen in bathroom, upper front teeth hitting on floor tile and broken. Instead of traumatic injury she does not have any significant medical condition or any allergies to drugs or food. She is a lactating mother and having six months old infant and four children.
In first day intra oral periapical radiographs were taken after taking of written informed consent and started the treatment (Fig- 3 & 4). Exposed dentine in the fractured teeth was covered with light cure glass ionomer cement. (Fig-1 and 2) Then rigid light cure composite splint done on upper canine to canine and with lower two centrals and right side lateral and canine. Patient was given analgesics and antibiotics for short period to relieved pain and prevent getting infection.
Then patient getting down after two weeks’ time and vitality test was done by using electric pulp tester. Result as flows- All teeth were given vital sing at two weeks’ time. Pulpal hemorrhage observed as reddish color in1tooth.According to trauma guide upper splint removal done and polishing were done. Fig- 6Then after four weeks time patient reviewed and intra oral periapical radiograph taken and vitality test was done. Test result as flows-All teeth were given vital sing at four weeks time. Reduced pulp redness observed. Lower anterior segment splint removal was done. Mobility of the teeth did not observe. Fractured all upper teeth light cure composite build up were done. Fig-7 & 8 because patient did not brought the fracture pieces.
Full Mouth Scaling and polishing was done due to stain of the lower teeth. She has missing two teeth inregion. Upper and lower partial denture was made and deliver while ongoing treatment. After 8weeks time patient recalled and radiographs were taken and vitality test was done with electric pulp tester.
Within the period of monitor all teeth were given vital respond to electric pulp tester. Next review appointment was given after 6months time.
Anterior teeth fracture is a common injury of the orofacial region in which appropriate emergency treatment is important. When children and young adults suffer an anterior teeth fracture, the challenge is to save the tooth in this aesthetically important area & minimize subsequent damage. Lack of proper treatment or wrong treatment can be lead to a lifelong suffering. The preservation of intact permanent front teeth, which unlike deciduous teeth will not be naturally fall off, are extremely important for future psychological aspect of the affected person. Loss of front teeth in adult (especially female) is unfavorably affected in both psychologically and socially.
These problems include both exclusion by others because of visible fracture or absent front teeth, which can lead to social deprivation and a feeling of embarrassment when laughing. There are many teeth fracture causes of anterior dental trauma. At the age of 1 and 2 years, it is mainly caused due to simple falls on floor when learning to walk. At preschool age, between 2 and 6 years, many such cases are happened due to fall on ground, resulting lack of attention when engaging in physical activities. The highest incidence of anterior teeth fracture occurs between seven and twelve years of age. In young adults causes for dental trauma are sporting injuries, road traffic accidents, physical fights (assault) and accidental fall.
It is very important to give first aid for the dentoalveolar trauma in young patients. This concerns the detail history of data on how the trauma occurred on the one hand, and this should also include monitoring for evidence of domestic violence and information from the medical history regarding current immunization status (tetanus) and signs of concussion (amnesia or autonomic symptoms) on the other.
Patient should examine for injuries in stomstognathic system and checking particularly for any signs of direct or indirect fractures to the jawbones. Teeth should be examined for displacement, abnormal mobility, and sensitivity (using cold spray and a cotton wool ball). The alveolar bone (process) should also be palpated to search for mobility, irregularities or discontinuities. Radiographs must always be taken during initial diagnosis, in order to rule out fractures. It may be simple periapical x- ray, stranded occlusal view, panoramic view or detail view of crone beam computer tomography.
Currently various techniques and materials have been suggested to manage the tooth fractures. For example, stainless steel crowns, porcelain crowns, pin or post retained resin build up, composite resin build up. All techniques are least conservative and time consuming. However, in today’s era, immediate replacement of lost structures is demanded and practiced. One of such treatment options where immediate results are obtained is the reattachment of fractured teeth segment. Reattachment procedure using acid etch technique was reported by Tennery. Subsequently, Starkey and Simonsen had also documented such cases. Reattachment of dental fragment has become possible due to the improvement of adhesive technique and restorative materials. With the current concepts of dentine hybridization, reattachment procedures have better prognosis with promising long term results. The advantages of reattachment procedure are as follows
- Better esthetic as shade match and translucency will be perfect
- Incisal edge will wear at a rate similar to that of the adjacent teeth
- Replacement of fractured portion may take less time
- A positive emotional and social response from the patient for preservation of natural tooth structure
- Natural tooth contour and contacts with adjacent are maintained
- It is an economical technique.
The treatment for coronal tooth fracture depends on various factors such as extent of fracture (biological width involvement, endodontic involvement, alveolar bone fracture), pattern of fracture and restorability of fractured tooth (associated root fracture), soft tissue trauma status, occlusion, esthetic and more importantly presence/absence of fracture tooth fragment and its condition for use (fit between fragment and the remaining tooth structure) and prognosis. In this case patient fail to bring the fractured tooth pieces, have done the rebuilding of the crown with composite resin.
The reattachment procedures should be considered in simpler cases of coronal tooth fracture, where the biological width is not involved and the fractured segments are available and preserved as naturally as possible, whereas complex cases, meticulous planning and careful execution of the treatment planning should be done. Reattachment procedure restores the incisal function and surface anatomy perfectly and is probably less traumatic, simple, and low cost method. Moreover, it provides superior esthetics, positive emotional and social response from the patient as his own natural tooth structures are preserved.
The main reasons for the loss of reattached tooth fragments are the fresh trauma to the same region casing debonding of the reattached tooth parts due to excessive forces acting in the same region. To avoid such failures, stress is given upon the fracture strength of the restored teeth, and this strength is in turn depends on the bond strength of composite to tooth structure. To increase the fracture strength of reattached tooth fragment, the simple reattachment can be supported by using additional retentive preparations such as bevel, chamfer, over contour, or internal dentinal groove. Reis et al have shown that a simple reattachment with no further preparation of the fragment or tooth was able to restore only 37.1% of the intact tooth’s fracture resistance, whereas a buccal chamfer recovered 60.6% of that fracture resistance; bonding with an over contour and placement of an internal groove nearly restored the intact tooth fracture strength, recovering 97.2% and 90.5% of it, respectively. In cases of complicated fractures, when endodontic therapy is required, the space provided by the pulp chamber can be utilized for inner reinforcement, by doing that avoiding further preparation of the fractured tooth. However, the pulpless teeth lose its natural translucency and color with time, and the esthetics can be reduced in a longer run. The use of the glass fiber post is a favorable option for the retention of the fractured segment.
The fractured segments should be stored as naturally as possible to maintain the naturality of the fractured segments. Improper storage of fractured fragments can leads to their dehydration. Therefore, to prevent such a loss, it is recommended that the fragment is kept in a medium such as normal saline. But some studies say even though the fractured segment that was reattached was dehydrated, the fragment recovered its original color and translucency without any marked change. Accurate and careful bonding procedures are necessary through the course of treatment and can have a favorable long term tooth prognosis.
Good Oral Hygiene: a Vehicle to a Million-dollar Smile
Orthodontics is a form of dental department that aims straightening malocclusions in addition to alimenting of teeth, that is solved by diagnosing the problem is then choosing the correct therapy by using braces, clear retainers, fixed or removable appliances. Orthodontics also serves to improve a patient’s overall oral health for a lifetime, and can even help with speech correction. A well aligned malocclusion makes speaking easy and easy to consume, smile and boost one’s confidence. Orthodontic treatment normally takes 6-30 months and is dependent upon age, severity of alignment troubles, and the remedy method this is used. Orthodontic troubles, which frequently end result from hereditary elements but may be worsened by using environmental factors consisting of finger sucking, should be recognized before treatment starts. Right diagnosis includes taking photos, x-rays, and dental impressions. Those painless diagnostic strategies allow us to make informative selections approximately which treatment is proper for you.
We recognize that remarkable results are dependent on maximizing the coordination of care between you and our practice. The benefits of orthodontic remedy include a healthier mouth, a greater desirable appearance, and teeth which can be much more likely to closing an entire life.an expert on this field is referred to as an orthodontist.
Only orthodontist can determine whether you could gain from using orthodontics. based totally on diagnostic tools that consist of a complete clinical and dental health records, a scientific examination, plaster models of your teeth, and special X-rays and photos, an orthodontist or dentist can determine whether or not orthodontics are recommended, and expand a treatment plan that’s right for you.
If you have any of the subsequent, you’ll be a candidate for orthodontic remedy:
- Overbite – wherein the top the front tooth lie to a long way forward (stick out) over the decrease teeth
- Underbite – the lower tooth are too a long way forward or the upper tooth too far back
- Crossbite – while the higher tooth do no longer come down slightly in front of the lower tooth while biting together generally
- Open bite – area between the biting surfaces of the front and/or side teeth when the returned tooth bite collectively misplaced midline- while the middle of your upper the front tooth does no longer line up with the middle of your decrease the front teeth
- Spacing – gaps, or spaces, among the teeth because of lacking teeth
- Crowding – when there are too many teeth for the dental ridge to adapt.
These home equipment work with the aid of placing gentle force on the teeth and jaws There are types of appliances, both fixed and removable, are used to assist cross teeth, retrain muscle groups and have an effect on the increase of the jaws. The severity of the problem determines the orthodontic method is in all likely to be the most effective.
Fixed appliances include:
Braces — Today braces made to be smaller, lighter and appear less metallic than in the past the most frequent fixed appliances, braces consist of bands, arch wires and brackets. Bands are fixed round the tooth or tooth and used as anchors for the appliance, while brackets are most regularly bonded to the front of the tooth. Arch wires are surpassed through the brackets and connected to the bands. Tightening the arch wire exact force teeth, that then steadily moves the teeth. to their acceptable position. Braces are generally adjusted month-to-month to deliver about the favored results, which may be accomplished within a few months to a few years. They come in a lot of bright colors for children and clear styles favoured by many adults.
Special constant home equipment — these kind of appliances are very uncomfortable during meals; they must be used solely as a closing resort. They are used to control thumb sucking or tongue thrusting, this home equipment is connected to the teeth by using bands.
Fixed area maintainers — A band is connected to the teeth next to the empty space, and a wire is extended to the teeth on the other aspect of the space.it is used when a child’s teeth are lost prematurely, and the area maintainer is used to maintain the area open till the everlasting tooth erupts.
Removable appliances include:
Retainers — a choice to orally transmitted suspenders for adults, successive aligners are being used by an increasing numerate of orthodontists to impel teeth in the same way that fixed ways and means act, only without metal wires and crotchets. Retainers are made to be easily noticeable and are removed when eating, brushing and flossing.
Removable space maintainers —They’re made with an acrylic inferior to fit over the jaw, and have plastic or metallic thread branches between exact teeth to keep the space between them open. These devices do the same exact function as fixed space maintainers.
Removable retainers — used up on the cover of the chaps, these devices obviate shifting of the teeth to their former post. They can also be modified and used to obviate thumb sucking. Headgear — with this design, a thong is placed around the back of the head-piece and attached to a metal metallic thread in forehead, or external part bow. Headgear milk-sickness the increase of the upper jaw, and holds the back teeth where they are while the forehead teeth are pulled back.
Jaw repositioning appliance — They may be used for temporomandibular joint disorders. They are also called splints, these devices are used up on either the top or lower jaw, and help trail the jaw to close in a more willing post. Active appliances:
- Finger spring is used to for the mesial distal movement of the teeth.
- Z-spring is used to rotate the incisors and move the incisors labial.
- Canine retractor-move canines distally.
- Coffin spring
- U loop canine retractor
- Helical canine retractor
- Buccal canine retractor
- Palatal canine retractor
Lip and cheek bumpers — these are designed to keep the lips or cheeks away from the teeth. Lip and cheek muscles put force on the interior teeth, and these bumpers help relieve the force.
Plates for arch expansion— a design used to widen the curved structure of the upper jaw. It is a formative layer that fits more than the cover of the chaps. Exterior force applied to the layer by screws power the joints in the bones of the cover of the mouth to free lengthwise, widening the palatal region.
Home Care Instructions
For the first day or so, sticky food should be avoided like tough meats, hard breads, and raw vegetables. Pens, pencils, and fingernails should not be bit down on as they will also damage the braces whilst you get the braces on, you may feel widespread pain for your mouth and tooth can be gentle to biting pressures for 3 to 5 days. Rinsing your mouth with cold water can relieve this pain, as the wires we location are thermal activated. If the tenderness is extreme, take a painkiller that you might normally take for headache or comparable ache. The lips, cheeks and tongue can also emerge as put out for one to two weeks as they give a boost to and become conversant in the floor of the braces. Teeth ought to come loose first so they can be moved. The tooth will again emerge as rigidly fixed of their new corrected positions. For people gambling sports activities, a protecting mouth protect is advised for gambling touch sports.
Brushing and Flossing
Brushing It is more essential than ever to brush and floss frequently when you have braces, so the teeth and gums are healthy after orthodontic remedy. patients who do now not maintain their teeth easy may additionally require more frequent visits to the dentist for an expert cleansing. Adults who have a history of gum disorder it is beneficial to preserve their oral health best to avoid the reoccurrence of gingival disorder.
The first factor to keep in mind whilst cleansing your teeth is that there are three surfaces of each tooth that want to be brushed. The Buccalwhile brushing the outside of the tooth you ought to try to make a forty-five-degree attitude in the direction of the gum line among the top of your toothbrush and the tooth itself. it is mainly essential to ensure the area among the brace and the gum stays smooth. attempt to brush 3 teeth at a time. Ensure those teeth are absolutely freed from meals and plaque before shifting to the following few. When you’re carried out with the outsides of the top and bottom tooth you can move to the insides.
The lingual whilst brushing the internal surfaces of the teeth, try to hold the 45-degree angle closer to the gum line as you probably did with the out of doors surfaces. Again, try and brush three teeth at a time and ensure that they’re smooth earlier than transferring on.
The occlusal cleansing the chewing aspects of the teeth must be straightforward. Recollect to brush 3 tooth at a time prior to shifting on to the following ones. Brushing strategies that may be used while for an affected person present process an orthodontist treatment:
- Scrub – while doing this approach, the bristle it is located horizontal on the gingiva, scrub inside the anterior position direction maintaining brush horizontal.
- BASS – Small round moves with apical moves are made closer to the gingival margin, the bristle is positioned apical closer to the gingival into the sulcus at a forty-five-degree attitude to the teeth surface.
- Charter’s – coronal 45 degrees of the bristle is positioned half of at the teeth and 1/2 at the gingiva
- Fones – the bristle is located perpendicular on the tooth. With tooth in occlusions, the brush is moved in rotary movement over the gingiva and arches.
- Roll-the bristle is positioned apically, parallel to the teeth and over the tooth surface. While brushing on the buccal and lingual inwards pressure, then rolling of head to comb bristle over gingiva and cervical and tooth.
- Atill man’s – mild rotatory movement is carried out at the buccal and lingual aspect with bristle ends stationary. The bristle is located at the buccal and lingual apically at an oblique attitude to long axis of teeth. The ends rests on the gingiva and cervical part.
- Modified still guy’s – the bristle is located pointing apically at an attitude of forty-five degrees to the teeth surface then apply strain as in the still man’s approach however vibrate brush and also circulate occlusal.
There are 2 approaches to floss – the use of a floss referred to as super floss using ordinary floss with floss threads. They can be located in the dental aisle of most supermarkets and drug stores. Whilst flossing, the floss is twisted around the center finger after which placed beneath the wire that holds the braces together. As soon as the floss is beneath the arch wire it is moved in a c-movement around the teeth. The floss is sooner or later pressed up in the direction of the marginal line and then pushed down closer to the arch cord, while the usage of the floss too much force should no longer be used as it can detach the bracket from tooth. The floss is wrapped around the adjoining tooth. Once each tooth is carried out, the floss is pulled out and the method repeated for the following tooth, wearing retainers complete time obligatory until informed in any other case by an orthodontic. Take the retainers out while ingesting and continually put retainers of their case to avoid the being lost, easy retainers thoroughly twice an afternoon with a toothbrush and toothpaste. Use room temperature water. Brushing retainers removes the plaque, and gets rid of odors. Orthodontic equipment cleaners may be used, however do no longer take the location of brushing. To begin with, a patient may additionally find it hard to talk. A patient is wishes to exercise talking, studying, or singing out loud to get used to them quicker. Retainers are breakable, it’s miles really helpful to treat them with care. If retainers are misplaced or broken the orthodontic must be straight away. Retainer alternative is costly with proper care they may last for years. Eliminate retainers whilst swimming. Keep retainers away from warm water, hot vehicle dashboards, wallet, the bathing device, and napkins. Flip the enlargement screws as advised. Insert the important thing into the hollow and flip closer to the arrow. If you are not able to keep your scheduled appointment, prevent turning the expander.
White Teeth: the Problem of Lacking a Role Model
My mother and my father are black. My mother grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and my father grew up in Warrior, Alabama. I consider myself a black woman in America, I try to refrain from calling myself African American because I do not know what part of Africa my family originated from. My parents can’t teach me about the struggles of being African, but they can teach me about the struggles of being black. They did not sugar coat anything when teaching me about certain problems I would face. They bluntly told me people will hate you because you are black. They told me my voice would not be acknowledged as much because I am a female. They told me that I might be glared at, called names, or profiled as someone up to no good. Most importantly, they told me that none of the negative things I would be told about my people were true. The point I am trying to make is that without being informed about my culture at a young age, I would easily be influenced by others and would assimilate to whatever seems normal. If there were good role models, communication, and cultural practice for the twins, they would not have assimilated to England and its ways as drastically as they did.
While reading White Teeth, I noticed there was a lack of a role model for Magid and Millat when it came to how Bangladeshi men should be. Their father, Samad is Bangladeshi and proud of it but he is also human, which means he is going to make mistakes as he tried to teach his children about their culture. Samad had contradicting ways about him, for instance, he had lost faith in his son Millat because of his smoking, drinking, having sex, etc. but Samad was masturbating, drinking, and sneaking around to see Millat’s teacher Poppy. These things are against his religion and he does feel bad about them, but that does not change the fact that he is doing it. Some of the same things he is crucifying his son for are some of the same things he is doing. “Samad had finally phoned Archie and confessed the whole terrible mess: he cheated, he was cheating; he had been seen by the children and now he was seeing the children, like visions, day and night” (Smith, 184). This is a very important part of the story since this portrays Samad to be a hypocrite and a bad role model. If Samad wants his son to straighten up and be a proud Bangladeshi man, then he should lead by example and show him what a proud Bangladeshi man looks like. Instead he is doing the same things he is yelling at his son about. Again, this is not degrading his character as a father, but simply saying that he should find another way to explain to his son why what he is doing is wrong. Actions speak louder than words when it comes to children, so to say one thing but do the exact opposite will not help them in their development as people.
In this book, one realizes that Samad doesn’t really talk to his children or his wife Alsana. He wants them to embrace their Bangladeshi culture, but he never really explained the importance of knowing the country’s legacy or heritage. He just assumed that by telling them to do so they would follow his instructions, and when they didn’t, he went to extreme measures to try and make them. In chapter 8 “Mitosis” Magid is told that he is going on a trip with Auntie Zinat and when he asks, if he will be back Monday to check on his science project, Samad says, “You’ll be in school on Monday, Magid. I promise. Now sit back in your seat, go on. For Abba, please” (Smith, 209). He lied to his son about coming back and he did not even inform Alsana that he was sending Magid off. This leads to issues because Magid does not understand why he was sent to Bangladesh, he was not told the purpose of being separated from his brother, and he was shipped away as if he was not wanted. Due to all of this not being communicated with him when he went to Bangladesh, he probably did not ask about the culture, traditions, or customs of the country. He of course learned some things due to being there so long, but probably did not ask questions or try to learn anything new about himself. Alsana was furious when she found out about this to the point that she never directly answered anything Samad asked for years. Her answer to everything was maybe, maybe not, possibly, I do not know, etc. This caused problems in their marriage because Alsana felt this was a decision that should have been discussed. Kidnapping and shipping a child off without discussing it is bound to cause some type of trauma and resentment.
The most harmful part of this story that led to the family’s assimilation was the lack of communication, cultural practice, and appreciation. For many people their name is a huge part of who they are and where they come from. It is quickly seen that Magid does not appreciate or understand the importance of his name. He lacks the knowledge of the history and meaning behind it. In chapter 6 “The Temptation of Samad Iqbal” Samad screams, “I GIVE YOU A GLORIOUS NAME LIKE MAGID MAHFOOZ MURSHED MUBTASIM IQBAL! AND YOU WANT TO BE CALLED MARK SMITH!” (Smith 151). It is obvious that this upsets Samad because Magid is literally wanting to change an important part of his identity. Another example of not appreciating his culture was when Poppy asked Magid about his favorite songs and he named American songs. This is not bad, but the teacher was trying to make him feel included and embrace his culture and he seemed to want nothing to do with it.
If Samad had talked more about the heritage and legacy of Bangladesh and then got the family involved in cultural activities when they were younger, they would have been used to it. By the time he wanted them to learn more about it and embrace it, they had already embraced the culture of England. Doing cultural activities and or talking about events that are happening back home would have been a way to know or understand the culture more. For Samad he feels an individual’s faith and culture is very important and there is one point in the book where he admits he feels defeated. When talking to Shiva he says, “I have been corrupted by England, I see that now- my children, my wife, they too have been corrupted” (Smith 144). It was around this time that he realizes how bad everything is and he wants to fix it but does not know how to do so. This all lead to the strictness and his drastic ways of trying to “save” his children that I referred to previously.
In the end, the family seems to be far from perfect. Millat is a boy who smokes, drinks, has sex, gets kicked out of class, and overall just rebels. He is the popular kid in school and everyone loves and or envies him. He joins Keepers of the Internal and Victorious Islamic Nation (KEVIN) which is one of the most extreme Islamic groups out there, to spite Samad who simply asked him and his brother Magid to be good Muslims. He even goes as far as trying to kill Dr. Perret who has helped Marcus with the Future Mouse project that his brother Magid is so fascinated with. Speaking of Magid, he was the “good kid” so he was shipped off to Bangladesh because Samad felt it would be easy to turn him into the perfect Bangladeshi Muslim man. He turned out to be quite the opposite fully embracing being an English man, even going as far as giving up all religious beliefs and focusing all his energy on science. These are extreme cases that could have been prevented if there was communication, good role models, and their culture was practiced at a very young age so they could learn to appreciate it. This doesn’t guarantee that at least one will not still stray away but the probability of it being this drastic is a lot less likely if these things were done.
Finding a “Neutral Place”: Postcolonialism Pitted Against Predeterminism in Zadie Smith’s White Teeth
Because postcolonial studies focuses on historical impacts of cross-cultural assimilation following World War II, it is closely linked with determinism, the notion that every event has an historical antecedent causing the present event’s existence. In the novel White Teeth (2000) by Zadie Smith, we see many of the characters struggling to find a balance between an acceptance of Postcolonialism and their own will to predestine the lives of other human beings.
One of the primary tenets of Postcolonialism is that the past is expressed through the present, or, as Samad so aptly states to Archibald, “the generations […] speak to each other” (100). Generational discourse is embodied by Alsana and Clara while they are searching for a proper place to raise their children. Alsana, believing “that living near green spaces [is] morally beneficial to the young” (52), chooses a home along the “High Road,” a place in between the urban ghetto of Willesden and Gladstone Park, “named after the Liberal prime minister” (52). Clara, who is also a first-generation immigrant, is searching for “a nice house somewhere midway between the trees and the shit” (40). Clara and Alsana’s identical methodology for home-searching is a way of using their past experiences—from both London and their respective English colonial states—to shape not only their present lives as imminent mothers, but also the “future history” (383) of their children: Magid, Millat, and Irie.
Alsana and Clara’s search for a home, a “neutral place” (383), is not only spatially significant, but also philosophically significant in that they are seamlessly transitioning between their past and present histories, as well as the “future history” of their children, thus metonymically paralleling the structure of postcolonial assimilation. With the dismantling of colonial possessions following World War II, immigrants from typically peripheral nations were ushered into the mainstream of international settling, making the place of one’s birth relatively irrelevant in the ability for the individual to overcome social obstacles. That Clara and Alsana attempt to bridge the physical characteristics of their homeland with the suburban life of the English middle-class, however, shows that they are not only connecting colony and colonizer—an indication of their postcolonial understanding of globalism and assimilation—but that they are also attempting to predestine the lives of their offspring through a location-specific child-rearing, an ostensible contradiction and neglect of the fundamentals of Postcolonialism.
By prophetically defining the lives of their children through a location, Alsana and Clara are corrupting the postcolonial notion that it is the past, and not the spatial subjugation of their children’s future lives, that guides the present. Samad further denies Postcolonialism by sending Magid to Bangladesh in order to rid his son of English culture, once again giving precedent to the location of one’s life as opposed to the history of one’s life, as well as showing an attempt to predetermine the life of another human being. Magid’s spatial discontinuity with Millat only further exemplifies Postcolonialism’s dominance over Samad, Alsana, and Clara’s predetermination of their children’s lives, for Millat and Magid are “tied together like a cat’s cradle, connected like a see-saw, push one end, [and the] other goes up” (183). These “incidentals: similar illnesses, simultaneous accidents, pets dying continents apart” (183) prove that location is completely arbitrary in a postcolonial age; the only valid method for explaining someone’s “fate” is a thorough examination of historical antecedents as they relate to present events.
That the present is fundamentally the amalgamation of past events is never more asserted in the novel than in the penultimate chapter, entitled “The Final Space,” a reference to a conference room “used for the meetings of people who want to meet somewhere neutral” (428). Ironically, the “final space,” valued for its neutrality, is where the novel’s violent resolution takes place, a resolution in which many radical groups, each having a drawn-out history of its own, meet to destroy a geneticist’s lifework. As with Alsana, Clara, and Samad, the geneticist Dr. Chalfen also mistakenly believes in the ability of an individual to predestine his own life path as well as the life paths of others. By using genetic engineering to control living creatures, Chalfen attempts to nullify the active significance of the past as a determinant of the future. In place of determinism, Chalfen offers “the tantalizing promise of a new phase in human history, where we are not victims of the random but instead directors and arbitrators of our fate” (357). Though Chalfen promises the “[elimination of the] random” (283), his project actively derides Postcolonialism by replacing the bridge between past and present with an undiscerning link between present and future.
Zadie Smith, however, elucidates the dissonant factions of postcolonial determinism and projected predestination by briefly recapping Samad and Archie’s World War II experiences, which are unequivocally the cause of Archie’s interference in an assassination attempt by Magid, a Muslim fundamentalist determined to relive the history of his great-great-grandfather, Mangal Pande. Though the Muslim terrorist group KEVIN and the Jehovah’s Witnesses are involved in the actions of the evening, the animal rights group “Fighting Animal Torture and Exploitation” (FATE) does not play a part in the novel’s resolution. Through Smith’s wit, the reader is shown that overall, “FATE” does not influence present events, nor is predetermining the fates of others an achievable feat; the only solidity in modern life is that past human history expresses itself through the present.
In Zadie Smith’s White Teeth, many of the characters believe that they can become “directors and arbitrators of [the] fates” (357) of other beings. However, according to postcolonial studies (determinism), as well as the subtext of the novel, one can not modify the fates of others, for only history, with all of its quirky, nuanced, interrelated trivialities, is the driving force behind modern life. Ironically, because history shapes the future, the historical present is always a modifier of the historical future, allowing Zadie Smith’s White Teeth to have a multiplicity of interpretations as they apply to the polemic between postcolonial determinism and the characters’ own predeterminism.
Smith, Zadie. White Teeth. New York: Vintage Books, 2000. Print.
Cultural Diversity in White Teeth
The search for identity in Zadie Smith’s White Teeth is one of the threads that Smith continually weaves throughout her novel. At one point or another, each character deals with the inevitable question of “Who am I?” From Irie’s search for an identity through her family history to Samad’s futile resistance to all things British, it becomes clear that the multiculturalism of modern London is making it increasingly difficult to align one’s self with a singular culture or background. Through the designation of names, nicknames, and other various epithets, Smith allows her characters to explore, choose, or deny their cultural identities in earnest. For somebody like Samad, these “nicknames” are considered slurs because they essentially insult the importance of his cultural background. But for his son, Magid, his attempts at Anglicizing his given birth name are simply attempts to adapt and blend into the multicultural British scene. Such differences, due to the “intergenerational adaptation” that Kris Knauer examined in his essay, are examples of why several characters respond in various ways to their names and nicknames. From “Mark Smith” to KEVIN, names in White Teeth serve to illustrate the difficulty of defining the multicultural British identity.In White Teeth, the characters’ names are constantly altered. The significance of these name changes reflects the fluidity of cultural identities, and how different generations consider the idea of multiculturalism. For the older generation, nicknames and various monikers are perceived as a threat to take away the culture they had brought with them from their homelands. According to Knauer, Smith demonstrates how difficult it was for older generations to accept anything other than their fundamental views of how race and culture are to be socially constructed (177-178). No more is this apparent than in Samad Miah Iqbal. Samad comes from an era in which Bangladesh is still colonially subjected to the British crown; hence, he becomes subjected to the racial and cultural ignorance of his fellow British comrades. In the waning days of World War II, the other men in Samad and Archibald Jones’s tank give Samad the crude nickname of “Sultan.” This nickname is meant to put Samad in his place among the crew, and serves as a constant reminder that he is still essentially an “other” in the British army. “He’ll shut it if he knows what’s good for him, the Indian Sultan bastard,” Roy Mackintosh says to Captain Dickinson-Smith, speaking about Samad as if he were an inherently different species and dumping him into a general ethnic category (Smith 73). Samad takes this incorrect use of culture and throws it back at them, giving them a derogatory nickname of their own. He responds, “To call me Sultan is about as accurate, in terms of the mileage, you understand, as if I referred to you as a Jerry-Hun fat bastard” (73). In such context, Samad’s interactions with these white British men are setting the stage for how he will handle the concepts of multiculturalism and assimilation when he later immigrates to London.Already having been belittled for being from a different culture, Samad also finds it insulting when Archie tries to show solidarity and friendship by calling him the more British moniker, Sam. By trying to use a friendlier nickname for Samad, Archie wants Samad to know that although he is from a different cultural background, it is still possible for them to be friends under the umbrella of British culture. But Samad has already had enough. “Don’t call me Sam… I’m not one of your English matey-boys. My name is Samad Miah Iqbal. Not Sam. Not Sammy. And not – God forbid – Samuel. It is Samad,” he growls (94). Samad feels that he cannot be one of Archie’s “English matey-boys” because he is so culturally and racially different from their “Englishness,” a belief that has been ingrained in him because of his earlier nickname, “Sultan.” Overall, Samad cannot fathom a possibility where Bangladeshi and British identities can come together harmoniously. The nicknames he has had to deal with during his time in the British army give him ample reasons for resisting the idea of multiculturalism. According to Nick Bentley’s essay, “Re-writing Englishness,” new ways of thinking about ethnicity are made more difficult by the fact that “old ideas about race and culture are difficult to shift” (499).In contrast, the younger generation in White Teeth seems to have a more eager grasp of becoming British. Whereas their parents “know more about constructs such as ‘otherness’ and ‘difference,’” (Knauer 180) Archie and Samad’s children are more familiar with concepts such as hybridity and multiculturalism. Knauer explains that Glenard Oak, the secondary school in Willesden Green, “is a school in which the word ‘difference’ is not a demonized mumbo jumbo that we somehow have to incorporate… to show how liberal and progressive we are, but it is a part of lived experience of the young crowds” (177). For example, such sentiments arise when Samad’s own son, Magid, embarks on a journey to Anglicize himself, starting with his unfamiliar, un-British birth name.A few months earlier, on Magid’s ninth birthday, a group of very nice-looking white boys with meticulous manners had turned up on the doorstep and asked for Mark Smith. “Mark? No Mark here,” Alsana had said, bending down to their level with a genial smile. “Only the family Iqbal in here. You have the wrong house.” But before she had finished the sentence, Magid had dashed to the door, ushering his mother out of view. “Hi, guys.” “Hi, Mark.” “Off to the chess club, Mum.” “Yes, M-M-Mark,” said Alsana, close to tears at this final snub, the replacement of ‘Mum’ for ‘Amma.’ “Do not be late now.” (Smith 126)As Magid becomes more involved with his British school and white British friends, he feels that in order to fit in properly, he has to publicly shed his given name. At home, Magid still understands and participates in his Bangladeshi background, since his parents were clearly unaware of the British persona that Magid uses to mask himself while at school. It might be that Magid does not want to completely reject his cultural identity, however; it is just that he is searching for another part of it – the British part. Samad himself fails to understand that Magid comes from two worlds, having been born in London to immigrant parents, and therefore cannot be expected to only bind to the Bengali Muslim world that dominates their household. “I told you, Magid, I told you the condition upon which you would be allowed. You come with me on hajj. If I am to touch that black stone before I die I will do it with my eldest son by my side,” Samad fiercely declares to his son in an attempt to show Magid what particular culture he must adhere to (127). It is Samad’s own unwillingness to let British culture seep into their Willesden home that leads to Magid searching for the British part of his cultural identity outside the private sphere.In a different vein, nicknames in the novel are also given in disapproval of certain lifestyle choices that disagree with aspects of one’s culture or heritage. Neena, Alsana Begum Iqbal’s niece, is given the unfavorable epithet of “Niece-of-Shame.” This is in response not specifically to Neena’s embrace of British culture, but to her homosexuality. The nickname “used to come in longer sentences, e.g., You have brought nothing but shame… or My niece, the shameful… but now… it had become abridged to Niece-of-Shame, an all-purpose tag that summed up the general feeling” (53). Rather than being directly designated to Neena, this particular epithet grows out of a gradual process, shrinking down from longer sentences to “an all-purpose tag.” The tag of being someone who has let down the strict traditions of her culture has been firmly affixed to Neena, even though she can still speak Bengali and manages to spend time with her ethnic family. But Alsana, by giving such a nickname to Neena, is demonstrating a disapproval of Neena’s liberal views and homosexuality that can only be possible in a country like Britain. Continuing the theory of intergenerational adaptation, as Samad’s wife, she is also part of the older generation, for Alsana “really was very traditional, very religious, lacking nothing except the faith” (53).Speaking in even broader perspectives, particular names also give significant meaning to various institutions and movements that attempt to define some facet of multicultural Britain. Samad’s other son, Millat, whose British upbringing is due to a complete immersion in pop culture rather than education like his twin brother, finds himself at a crossroads in the middle of the novel. His love for American gangster movies instills in him a desire to construct his own identity as a Western icon, something he cannot develop at home because of Samad’s resistance to British culture. Millat is searching to expand his persona as the leader of the Raggastanis, fellow weed-smoker of the black kids, hero and spokesman for the Asians (224-225). Enter the Keepers of the Eternal and Victorious Islamic Nation. The initial appeal of this youthful organization to Millat begins with his old mate Hifan as “the don. Look at the suit… gangster stylee!” (245). The members of this group believe they are fighting for fundamentalist Islam against the tyranny of British imperialism, but who can ignore the fact that their acronym, KEVIN, spells out a common Western boy name? Even their uniform, the gangster-style suits that Millat admire, can be considered distinctly Western. In essence, KEVIN serves as an outlet for the conflicted individuals of Millat’s generation. Having largely ignored his Muslim heritage throughout his whole life in favor of Al Pacino and The Godfather, Millat is trying to compensate for his Westernization by taking part in an extremist Muslim brotherhood. KEVIN’s acronym problem, in fact, reminds readers that prominent members such as Millat are still English born and bred.Undoubtedly like many older generation immigrants like him, Samad is completely unable to grasp the concept of intergenerational adaptation because he fails to see his children as culturally different from him. He cries out, “Don’t speak to me of second generation! One generation! Indivisible! Eternal!” (241). It worries him that his children either will become completely British or not Bangladeshi at all. But times are changing. Smith regards the evolving tales – and indeed, names – of the Iqbal family as an example of how “old categories of race are an inaccurate way of describing the ethnic diversity of contemporary England” (Bentley 496). Even Millat Iqbal’s own middle name is a play on different cultures set on a crash collision course. Millat “lived for the in between, he lived up to his middle name, Zulfikar, the clashing of two swords” (Smith 291).
Certitude, Ambiguity, and Miscalculation in White Teeth
In White Teeth, Zadie Smith develops characters who obsess over preciseness, categorizing, and decisions. This is why Samad’s punishment for making the sole decision to send their son off to Bangladesh is Alsana leaving him in a constant state of ambiguity. ““Maybe none, Samad Miah. Maybe all.” Alsana refuses to answer even the most trivial of Samad’s questions with certainty. The unknown drives Samad up the wall and even worse, his son comes back more “English” than “Bangladeshi” anyways, wrecking Samad’s hopes for one son coming out like he wanted and definitively proving his choice to send Magid incorrect. It seems like Smith’s book punishes those who seek purity in race or culture. The more characters strive towards precision and correct calculation, the more they are struck down by the book’s fate. In this paper I will primarily go through the characters of Samad, Archie, and Irie to identify their tendencies regarding certainty and analyse how that element of their personalities shapes them. I will relate these elements to how damned the characters are to show how the book makes the case for acceptance of fluidity over multiculturalism.
As briefly shown in the previous paragraph, Samad Iqbal is determined to be sure. He is attached to the history surrounding his ancestors, deriving meaning from the past that controls who he is in the present. Samad is convinced that his great-grandfather, Pandes, was a hero in Bangladesh. He tells the war story to everyone and repeatedly, even begging Pandes’ picture to be hung up in a local bar. The more he gets into the story, the more those around him fact check it. Unfortunately for Samad, most historical evidence suggests that his great-grandfather was actually no hero at all. Despite the overwhelming facts, Samad desperately clings to the information he can to prove that his family was indeed great. His desire for the past reroutes him from living in the present, leading him to try to apply his roots to things that no longer exist (and never really did exist as we learn that Pande wasn’t the person Samad makes him out to be), failing him. The structure of the book itself also takes a shot at letting past control the present. In “Chance and Gesture in Zadie Smith’s White Teeth and The Autograph Man: A Model for Multicultural Identity?” Jonathan Sell writes that “[The novel’s] foregrounding of the present means that the past is rendered as background and stripped of its conventional prerogative to shape the present, while the usual cast-iron sequence from cause to effect melts into a more liquid and arbitrary relationship of analogy or serendipitous contingency” (2006). This interesting analysis also helps show how the book tries to transcend time, jumping around a lot but still moving forward on average.
Marcus Chalfen is also for ruling out chance and taking complete control of destiny. He even says that his Future Mouse “holds out the tantalizing promise of a new phase in human history where we are not victims of the random but instead directors and arbitrators of our own fate.” Sell also finds this rootedness in Marcus Chalfen “who believes that if “[y]ou eliminate the random, you rule the world.” (2006). While not obsessed with conventional race, Chalfen is very attached to his family’s own culture of “Chalfenism”. The members of the family boast about their cultural superiority endlessly and know exactly what elements are “Chalfenist” as Joshua thinks Irie may have roots in. Their attachment to Chalfenism is no different than Samad’s attachment to Bangladeshi roots that he wants to impose on his family. The difference is that Samad is obsessed with the past while Marcus is obsessed with the future (literally his entire project has the word Future in it). Neither live presently. Even with the most trivial measurements, the characters in this novel can’t seem to get them right. After proudly being caught with pot, Joshua Chalfen is asked to measure out an eighth of tobacco to prove he is really a drug dealer. As if he knows the difference he asks if he should show them “a European eighth or an English eighth.” He pulls an amount not remotely close to either, embarrassing himself. Though paling in comparison to other characters in this book, Joshua’s stubbornness and determination leads to miscalculation. The mouse that Marcus Chalfen and Magid stand behind represents “just certainty. Just certainty in its purest form.” The end of the book comes down to an epic battle over a mouse representing the characteristics I’ve described: preciseness and control. Characters are divided on either side of the issue with the exception of those who really can’t form any opinion.
It is interesting that Marcus/Magid are on one side of the debate with Samad/Joshua on the other. It shows how forcing a culture on children inevitably fails, even entirely turning on characters. What does happen however, is that both children are still equally very determined people interested in precision and certainty, they have just gone over to the other side. Despite Samad’s obsession with decision, he still believes in fate created by God and also uses coins to make his choices, just like Archie. The backing away from choices in reality while putting together the appearance of decisiveness is what Samad’s problem is. He can never seemingly make a choice without worrying for a long time, and then letting a coin or God make the true call. The idea of splitting two brothers up, one to Bangladesh roots, and one to contemporary England, shows the inability to pick just one race, instead trying to live out both. What Samad doesn’t understand is that there has been a “root canal.” Once one generation crossed borders, there was no going back; the root was removed. The Jehovah’s Witnesses in the novel are not exempt from this analysis and correlation and are probably the most obvious example for criticism of not living presently. Every time a date they claim will be the end of the world passes without a hiccup, they notice a miscalculation that caused the inaccurate prediction and proclaim a new date. While not being obsessed with dividing their movement among racial or cultural lines, they instead exclude women from accessing their movement at a higher level. They spend the time leading up the proclaimed date making preparations and living entirely for the date. The Jehovah’s Witnesses live in the future instead of the past in this way, which still leads to them throwing away their lives. Their determinism in the faith as well as with keeping women out distracts them from being rational human beings a lot of the time
.In contrast to Samad, Archie Jones is willing to leave everything up to chance. He uses a coin to decide between life and death twice (both resulting in life). Even meeting Clara is a completely random occurrence. Archie doesn’t seem to be interested in making any choices himself, but still requires one to be made as opposed to leaving things open. This means that Archie still supports sending one of Samad’s children to Bangladesh and picking a side on Future Mouse, it just means he doesn’t care about putting thought into the decision. In her presentation at the Literature Colloquium, Paula mentioned the incident where the kids go to deliver a care package to an old white man who tells them a war story about using the contrast of white teeth against brown skin to determine whom to kill. The problem was that when the teeth would rot, it would be hard to tell who was the bad guy. Paula says this is another instance of ambiguity in the novel leading to a decision that results in life or death. Especially when remembering that teeth in this novel represent rootedness and tradition, the book seems to be making the argument that when culture or race isn’t defined, safety is ensured (because you are harder to target). Archie’s passive nature towards decision is passed on to his daughter. Irie Jones is easily influenced and victim to the choices that other people make for her. Most notably, this comes when she learns that her idol, Marcus Chalfen, thinks she can amount to a dentist but nothing more. She promptly changes her career aspirations and heads to dental school, letting Chalfen have jurisdiction over choices that should have been hers. This section is still at a time when Irie struggles with identity (typical for someone her age but her struggle is rooted in race which is more interesting than the average non-mixed race teen). In “The mouseness of the mouse: The competing discourses of genetics and history in White Teeth” by Michele Braun, she writes that Irie “wants to be one with the Chalfens, to separate “from the chaotic, random flesh of her own family and [be] transgenically fused with another. A unique animal. A new breed” (2013). In Irie’s imagination, the hybridity of a transgenic animal is attractive. It allows her a fantasy of escape from the tyranny of her family life and her part-black, part-white bodily traits because she imagines a blended identity will transcend the limits of either “black or white.”
At this point in the novel, Irie is intrigued by mixing cultures and races to achieve the best of multiculturalism. She has not yet learned to reject these things outright. When I argue that the novel makes an argument for fluidity, I don’t mean multiculturalism. I actually think the novel takes a much more radical stance and argues for tossing out culture based on geographic or racial lines altogether. In “After the Century of Strangers: Hospitality and Crashing in Zadie Smith’s White Teeth,” Ryan Trimm writes that “Smith’s novel uses the family as a miniature of the nation, a well-worn cliché for how domestic units turn “social processes into natural, instinctive ones,” a process stressing racial homogeneity.” (2015). I think Trimm is right in their analysis, that this novel shows the harms of prioritizing things like racial homogeneity, but I think they are wrong when they call it a well-worn cliche because I think Smith’s allegory shows something different. Rather than call out just racial homogeneity, Smith calls out every instance of certainty, of boundary, of value on borders. I think this is what makes this novel unique and interesting. Hoping for certain outcomes usually leaves the characters disappointed. When Archie hopes for certain outcomes, like his half-black daughter having blue eyes, he is typically left disappointed. Archie doesn’t really consider race when making the decision to be with Clara. In fact, he is excited to have a daughter with dark skin and blue eyes. This attachment to multiculturalism leads to his disappointment when Irie ends up having dark eyes (along with the other “worst parts of both parents”). With this, Smith critiques the fetishization of multiracial babies, shutting down the trope. In the last part of the novel, Irie gets pregnant after sleeping with both Iqbal twins. After being upset for a while at the prospect of her child having “no real coordinates,” she thinks “whatever. It was always going to turn out like this.” Irie’s child will be without roots, floating in some ambiguous space – not multicultural and interested in an assortment of their roots, but pure space. Irie chalks up the fluidity of the child’s history and ancestry to fate. The child, who would be the most racially diverse character in this book (a quarter English, a quarter Jamaican, and half Bangladeshi), is the most accepted. The child won’t be sent around to countries to try to reclaim roots. The child will “feel free as Pinocchio”, free of unnecessary ties to the past or to racial or cultural boundaries. This, the book argues, is optimal.
We can tell by analysing these characters that the book makes an argument of rejecting boundaries and defined identities. It seems that anyone who pushes to maintain a defined life is also someone who defends protecting cultural and racial institutions. These people end up losing the battle against the melting pot that is multicultural England. However, the characters who are seemingly liberal with these things aren’t any better. Acceptance of multiculturalism is also not something that is praised in the novel. Instead, Zadie Smith sets up a goal of fluidity of life and culture. This fluidity ignores roots in other countries and other cultures and encourages characters to live without influence, wholly as themselves.
Braun, Michele. “The mouseness of the mouse: The competing discourses of genetics and history in White Teeth.” The Journal of Commonwealth Literature. June, 2013. 01 Nov. 2016. Sell, J.P. “Chance and Gesture in Zadie Smith’s White Teeth and The Autograph Man : A Model for Multicultural Identity?” The Journal of Commonwealth Literature September 2006. 01. Nov. 2016.Trimm, Ryan S. “After the Century of Strangers: Hospitality and Crashing in Zadie Smith’s White Teeth.” Contemporary Literature ISSN: 0010-7484, 2015. Web. 01 Nov. 2016.
The Quagmire of Love and Marriage in Smith’s White Teeth
Zadie Smith’s novel White Teeth depicts the relationship between love and marriage in a manner that contrasts from Western expectations. Set in the United Kingdom, the story primarily follows the relationship of Archibald and Clara as compared with the relationship of Samad Miah and Alsana. In many ways, these relationships would not be uncommon to Westerners, but in at least as many respects, these same relationships come to defy certain conventions that Western tradition imposes on the ideal marriage—in Britain’s case, a couple that embodies British national identity.
Archibald and Clara represent a couple that, in large part, defies Western, conventional expectations of the ideal marriage simply by being an interracial couple in the first place. Archie is a White man who marries a Jamaican woman, and for that matter, she is toothless when he meets her. In this way, they challenge conventional aesthetics that Westerners are likely to associate with the idea of marriage, which are the surface details; however, a great deal of deeper challenges remain to also serve as a commentary on the differences between their marriage and those proposed by Western perspective.
One aspect of both marriages at which Western ideology cringes is the vast age differences involved. Archibald is forty-seven when he meets Clara who is nineteen, and this is the sort of age difference that makes Western society uncomfortable. Deeper still, though, is the fact that they appear to have met by chance, which is in keeping with a significant motif used in the text. Western presuppositions about the ideal marriage, that which coincides with the model of British national identity, attributes this profoundly abstract and immeasurable notion of fate to those who are in love. The idea is that the ideal, budding relationship is fostered out of a love so powerful that it transcends both time and circumstance to ultimately bring two soul mates together, and while the text does hint at Archie’s consideration of this possibility when he meets Clara, the pervasive motif of chance makes a significant showing as well and may even be read as overpowering the likelihood of fate as the reader continues due to how often chance appears.
As a matter of fact, the description of their, perhaps, chance meeting is described more as one of chance than of fate. Archie merely ponders the likelihood of it having been fate thereafter, but with fate comes a connotation of certainty that is absent in their meeting. If it were fate, some might argue that they should recognize the moment and appraise it accurately, but Archie and Clara are uncertain of how to classify the experience. The description of their meeting reads: A dark line would now be drawn underneath the whole incident, underneath the whole sorry day, had something not happened that led to the transformation of Archie Jones in every particular that a man can be transformed; and not due to any particular effort on his part, but by means of the entirely random, adventitious collision of one person with another. Something happened by accident. That accident was Clara Bowden. (Smith 56) The long and short of the narration depicts their encounter as an accident. On the basis of principle, the Western model of marriage suggests that an accident is not ideal but, rather, an unconventional precursor to marriage, and the result is that Westerners would likely view this as the more likely marriage to fail in comparison to one in which lovers claimed to be drawn by fate.
Samad and Alsana can be observed to extrapolate just as many challenges to Western conventions of the British model of marriage. In fact, it is worth noting that the British model would be that of a White couple as opposed to a Bangladeshi, immigrant couple. In addition to this, as has been mentioned, Samad and Alsana have a comparable age difference to that of Archie and Clara. In many of the aforementioned, superficial and aesthetic ways, Samad and Alsana fail to meet the rigidly conservative parameters of Western expectations of marriage.
In addition to these superficial upsets, Samad and Alsana’s relationship also serves to create several deeper challenges to the aforementioned, Western conventions just like Archie and Clara’s relationship. The institution of marriage, as conceptualized by Western tradition, is meant to perpetuate the true love that was initially fated. Satisfaction with the resultant relationship, in fact, is supposed to magically be automatic, but of course, the Iqbal marriage holds no such delusions of grandeur. Samad explains to Archie his reasoning behind marrying Alsana, and it is more akin to reconciliation with midlife crisis than the Western idea of love. “Look at me,” Samad tells Archie, “Marrying Alsana has given me this new lease on living, you understand? She opens up for me the new possibilities. She’s so young, so vital—like a breath of fresh air” (Smith 34). For Samad, Alsana fills a personal void and even enables him to adjust his own view of self to a more comfortable one. He holds this conversation with Archie, in fact, with an advisory tone as if to suggest that Archie should be taking to heart the idea that a wife should be whatever a man needs to feel the way he needs to feel to keep living.
Similarly at a much later point in the novel, Alsana disillusions Clara of the romantic notions of marriage. Her description can actually be argued as an even less romantic perspective than Samad’s, perhaps more cynical. Her explanation to Clara is that they essentially spend too much time deliberately deluding themselves, trying not to examine their husbands too closely for fear of ruining some modicum of mystique still manifesting in their marriages, but Alsana goes further to explain that, at some point, that which is problematic must be examined up close: “So look at it—no, dearie, it must be done—look at it close up. Look at what is left. Samad has one hand; says he wants to find God but the fact is God’s given him the slip; and he has been in that curry house for two years already, serving up stringy goat to the whiteys who don’t know any better, and Archibald—well, look at the thing close up …” (Smith 174-5) This demonstrates an even more cynical view. Alsana’s perspective on marriage, relative to hers and Clara’s, is simply that their husbands are utterly undesirable and that there is nothing worth praising. When she trails off at the end of the quote, she pauses to allow Clara to envision what is problematic about Archie before she finishes, saying, “… folds paper for a living, dear Jesus” (Smith 175).
The problem that arises from comparing these relationships to those that ideally fit the British model of marriage or, more generally, fit Western conventions regarding the ideal marriage is that love is unquantifiable and, perhaps, even unrealistic in the sense that it is a much more uncommon sight than one might expect. The fact that national conceptualization of marriage constructs a model that is not commonly seen means that, of course, the model challenges itself. This is likely one of Smith’s points in writing White Teeth. Relationships are spawned haphazardly throughout the book, even across history, and one of the few constants in observing the depicted relationships is that they do not fit the model. People are conventionally mismatched, which applies not just to marriages but all relationships (e.g. that of Chalfens and Bowdens or of Archie and Samad). The chance occurrences of so many of these relationships also speaks to how unlikely Smith suggests it may be for Western tradition’s template for love and marriage to be fulfilled because no relationship in the text brings it to fruition. Even the Chalfens themselves serve as more of a fringe rendering of the British model of marriage due to their bizarre, collective independence.
Marriage and love are not shown to be mutually exclusive in the text, nor does Smith imply that one is natural precursor to the other. The novel attacks the Western, traditional expectation that love be the principle on which a marriage is based, and it also attacks the notion that marriage is likely to perpetuate or generate that love after the fact. The question of love and marriage, therefore, irrevocably pits tradition against realism such that the two cannot coincide, and examining this phenomenon leads the reader to presume that their inability to coincide may actually be a natural truth. Traditional, Western expectations of love and marriage assert certain ideas about the abstract concept and its corresponding institution that suggest there is an inexorable correlation, yet Smith’s depictions of marriage brazenly chip away at tradition on the basis that there is a time and place for idealism but that asserting romanticized ideas as truth is little more than misleading—a collection of socially constructed falsehoods.