Pageant flippers are the false front teeth worn by children who are competing in beauty pageants. They are normally worn only while the child is on stage. The purpose of a flipper is to hide any imperfections in a child’s front teeth, so that the smile he or she presents to the judges has no crooked teeth or gaps. Not all types of pageants require or even allow the use of flippers, but for those that do, they can be very important.
Since many children competing in beauty pageants are at the age where it is common to lose teeth, pageant flippers are a way of temporarily covering the gaps so that the child presents a perfect smile. Flippers must be made individually, and they can be quite expensive. To have a flipper made, a child first has to have an impression made of her teeth. This is typically done with a kit that can be mailed to the child’s home so that the parents can take the impression and then send the kit to the lab by return mail.
Various labs make pageant flippers, and both the time it takes and the quality of the job can vary quite a bit from one lab to the next. New contestants may want to ask other parents for lab recommendations, to avoid wasting money on poor quality flippers. Once the lab has received the impressions of the child’s teeth it typically takes about two weeks to receive the completed flipper. It is important that the flippers be made in advance; if they don’t fit correctly, the teeth may drop out of the child’s mouth during the competition. The size should also be checked to make sure the teeth don’t look too large or too small for the child’s mouth.
Some people object to the use of pageant flippers, claiming the teeth look unreal and make young children appear strange or unnatural. For people who don’t like pageant flippers but would like to see their children compete, natural pageants may be a more appropriate choice. These pageants typically don’t require the use of flippers, and in many cases they specifically forbid them.
Parents who want to see their children compete in the very fancy glitz competitions need to be accepting of the use of pageant flippers. It is very rare for a child to enter such competitions without the use of these fake teeth, and rarer still for a child without them to do well. Most people who compete tend to consider pageant flippers to be part of the makeup and nothing more.