I kind of mind the gap

Strahan’s Hall of Fame bust doesn’t get teeth right

By Dr. Stephanie McGann, DMD FAGD, Columnist, The Times

UTStephCollogoAre you ready for some football?

Nothing shouts fall more than the distant drumbeat of the high school band or the coach’s whistle when he barks “again” to his sweaty players during an early practice. The installation of the new crop of pro football hall of famers in Canton signals the end of summer and reminds us that fall is right around the corner.

I am a self-professed football junkie.  I grab the recent copy of ESPN the magazine and have it dog-eared and read cover to cover before anyone else even knows it arrived.   It was with great admiration that I watched as Michael Strahan was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. For years folks have been giving him attention, in part, because of his famous gapped-tooth grin.   I was asked once why did I thought he didn’t have it fixed.  The answer is simple.  The grin is him, it’s his signature feature and to be honest there is nothing wrong with it. 

So when Michael Strahan asked the sculptor who was creating his bust for Canton, to show his smile, it was a natural and obvious choice.    We all recognize Michael Strahan by his infectious grin.

About his bust, sculpting a likeness for the hall of fame is an honor and a challenge.  Sculpting teeth for a bronze casting is extremely difficult.   Most dentists in America spend hours carving teeth out of wax during their very first year in dental school.  For some, it was the litmus test as to whether or not they could succeed as a dentist.


Michael Strahan’s Hall of Fame bust: the gap is not quite right, Strahan’s actual front teeth are aligned properly, not splayed out as depicted here.

Blair Buswell, the chief sculptor for the hall of fame discourages individuals from smiling for their bust.  According to him the teeth just don’t look right in bronze.  Yet Michael Strahan insisted and his bust is smiling.  Personally I just can’t imagine Michael Strahan NOT smiling.  I do think Mr. Buswell missed the mark here a little bit. The sculptor for this particular project could have used a cosmetic dental consult to get the teeth right.

I know I am looking at this statue with a very critical eye but when the bust was unveiled, my heart sank, the teeth were just not really “right.”  A smile is created by the size, shape and position of the teeth and the space around them.   Cosmetic dentistry has become a catch-all term that is employed by almost every dentist who does tooth-colored restorations.  A real cosmetic dentist combines the science of dentistry with the art of creating the perfect smile.

What is important to remember is that while with modern dentistry everyone can achieve a perfect smile, the challenge is figuring out what is the smile that will look best for each person.  Exceptional cosmetic dentistry should never look like dental work; it should look like a great smile.

Congratulations to the recent additional to the Hall of Fame, it is an achievement that will live forever.


Dr. Stephanie McGann, who has more than two decades of dental practice experience, is a resident of the Unionville area and along with her partner, Dr. Marie Scott, operates The Brandywine Smile Center, a family-friendly dental practice in Concordville. Dr. McGann has opened a new practice in Valley Township, Rainbow Valley Dental. She is a Fellow of the Academy of General Dentistry.

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