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What happened to Johnny Depp's teeth?

 The Pirates of the Caribbean star has refused to get veneers

Faye James
Senior Editor
Updated: June 13, 2024
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It seems everyone from Selena Gomez to Simon Cowell has joined the veneer train in recent years, opting into extensive dental work to maintain their pearly white smiles.

 One celeb who has notably refused to join the pack is Pirates of the Caribbean star Johnny Depp, who has sparked debate over his noticeably imperfect chompers.

 After a drawn-out and highly publicized legal battle with ex-wife Amber Heard, Johnny made his first public appearance at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival to promote Jeanne du Barry, in which he plays French King Louis XV. 

 

Movie makeover

People took to the internet to voice their concerns, with one commenter on X saying, “Those teeth are a few months away from falling out.”

 “I don’t think he’s seen a toothbrush since the Clinton administration,” another wrote.

Johnny Depp's teeth have eroded over the years© Getty
Johnny Depp's teeth have eroded over the years

“Harry Potter and the vortex of tooth decay”, quipped a commenter referring to Johnny’s role in the Harry Potter sequel, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Crimes of Grindelwald.

Johnny is known for throwing himself headfirst into a role, and his turn as Captain Jack Sparrow in 2003 was no exception; to add to the character’s roguish charm he had gold caps put on some of his teeth, a move which he said was met with resistance from executives.

Johnny's perfect smile before his teeth eroded© Vera Anderson
Johnny's perfect smile before his teeth eroded

Damage to his teeth?

In an interview with the LA Times in 2003, he recalled meeting with the executive team before filming began: “Jerry [Bruckheimer, producer] was slightly uncomfortable and the Disney executives weren’t exactly enthusiastic about it… I said, ‘Look, these are the choices I made. You know my work. So either trust me or give me the boot.’ And luckily, they didn’t.”

Fans have long speculated that the dental work done on Johnny to pull off the swashbuckling pirate did permanent damage to his teeth, leaving stains and forcing him to keep some of the gold caps, although he has never confirmed these rumours.  

Johnny Depp in more recent years© Getty
Johnny Depp in more recent years

Speaking with Dark Horizons in 2005 about Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the actor, who played Willy Wonka in the film, spoke about the importance of achieving the perfect look for the character.

“It was incredibly important to have a feel for it and to be able to put that costume on and click those veneers into my mouth and the teeth, which actually changed the shape of my face a little bit.”

During a cross-examination in the defamation trial against Amber Heard, Johnny opened up about his past substance abuse and alcohol problem, claiming he took drugs for “self-medication”. He admitted that he had been addicted to opioids after a painful injury, but sought help when he realised he was heading down the wrong path.

Johnny in his younger years© Jun Sato
Johnny in his younger years

Substance abuse

According to experts at the American Dental Center, substance abuse can have devastating effects on oral health. Cocaine can lead to receding gums and tooth loss, marijuana can cause mouth dryness which leads to plaque and bacteria build up, and eventually severe decay, and alcohol can numb the pain from any dental issues causing problems to be ignored and eventually worsen over time.

On top of the substance abuse, Johnny has been a smoker since he was a child; he once joked in an interview with The Seattle Times that he wants “to have another mouth grafted onto my face to smoke more. Instead of three packs a day, I want to smoke six packs a day.”

 The father of two proudly detailed the dental work he had needed way back in 1995 to Premier magazine, proving that the stage was set nearly two decades ago for his imperfect teeth.

Johnny showcases his gold caps© Getty
Johnny showcases his gold caps

Cavities

 “I’ve got loads of cavities,” Johnny admitted at the time, “I had a root canal done eight years ago that’s unfinished. It’s like a rotten little stub…But I like it. I’m proud of these.”

 “When I see people with perfect teeth, it drives me up the wall,” he continued, “I’d rather swallow a tick than have that!”

His disdain for veneers is a surprising choice, especially given the nature of Hollywood’s obsession with perfection and the constant scrutiny that actors face over all aspects of their appearance.  

Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow in a video message to Captain Kori on YouTube© YouTube
Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow

Expert opinion

Dr Sam Jethwa of Bespoke Smile - who has not treated Johnny Depp - is a leading cosmetic dentist and President Elect of the British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry and he weighed in Johnny's teeth transformation to HELLO!.

“From looking at these pictures, we can see clear discoloration,  and deterioration of the gold restorations he will have placed for personal cosmetic goals previously! There is aging of the teeth, they look as though there may be nerve death causing opacity on one front tooth, or trauma or damage to the teeth. There is tooth wear which is a sign of enamel erosion as the dentine (the underlayer of the teeth) becomes exposed and causes the teeth to appear yellow. Tooth erosion is often caused by acid in the mouth.

Johnny Depp attends the "Jeanne Du Barry" press conference at the 76th annual Cannes film festival at Palais des Festivals© Getty Images
Johnny refuses to get veneers

"Yellow discoloration can also be a result of the food and drink consumed (coffee and red wine are particularly bad for this), poor oral hygiene and smoking. Aside from the nicotine and tobacco being able to stain the teeth yellow / brown, smoking will also decrease saliva production and cause a dry mouth, which is another known cause of cavities. If the mouth is more dry than it should be then the body is less well equipped to naturally fight against the acid and the consequent damage it does to teeth. There may be some tooth decay residing underneath the exposed gold caps, which his dentist would confirm."

"Johnny Depp’s upper teeth also appear shorter, and worn down - which is very common with age as the teeth have done a lot more work. However, as well as age this can also be a result of teeth grinding and clenching, tooth erosion and dental trauma.” 

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