‘The Buccal’ Did Joan Crawford really get teeth pulled to change the look of her face?

Joan Crawford teeth removed?

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Plastic surgery and other measures to change a person’s look or attempt to hold on to youth is nothing new in Hollywood. The only thing that’s changed is the advancement of science and technology.

Classic Hollywood icon Joan Crawford is a notorious example of a celebrity who went to extreme measures to alter and keep her beauty. At this point, however, it’s difficult to tell the difference between reality and legend.

Joan Crawford spilled the tea on a lot of her beauty secrets in her own book, My Way of Life (affiliate link.)

Every day Joan would cleanse her face and then splash it with cold water twenty-five times, which is a bit different than the depiction in the 1981 film Mommie Dearest (affiliate link,) where she was depicted scalding her face with hot water before immediately plunging it into an ice bath.

A pretty strange beauty practice she would perform was to soak her eyelids with witch hazel and boric acid, which she did once a week while wearing a face mask.

She would also chew gum to try to tone her neck and jaw muscles, and used mayonnaise on her hair, a beauty practice popularized by 90 Day Fianceé‘s Big Ed in modern times.

There’s no direct record from Joan herself about having her teeth removed to change the shape of her face, however.

This rumor can be traced back to Bette & Joan: The Divine Feud (affiliate link) by Shaun Considine, and was repeated in the Ryan Murphy miniseries adaptation titled Feud.

According to this lore, Joan is said to have had a procedure known as a “buccal” in her early days at MGM. The idea was that by removing the back molars, it would make her cheekbone more pronounced.

There are also rumors that Marlene Dietrich also had some back teeth removed to achieve the same look.

Celebrities these days actually remove fat from the buccal region of the face to achieve this sought-after look.

It seems like the legend of Joan’s teeth removal for vanity may not be true. What is true is that she did have a number of tooth extractions, but these occurred later in life and were due to periodontal disease.

A website called The Concluding Chapter of Crawford has published her dental receipts to prove when she had five teeth extracted on July 18th, 1974 and two molars on February 15th, 1975, 30 years after she was rumored to have teeth removed.

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