“Got a bag and fixed my teeth/Hope you hoes know it ain't cheap.”
I’ve probably heard that line a zillion times over this summer thanks to Cardi B and her hit “Bodak Yellow,” which is now Billboard’s longest running No. 1 by a female solo rapper ever. Yes, the Bronx native who first captured our hearts on Love & Hip Hop: New York with her ability to tell it like it is and make audiences laugh out loud in one fell swoop gave us the summer '17 anthem, but she also gave us some valuable advice about cosmetic dentistry — it ain’t cheap.
I was curious just how much of a bag a smile makeover similar to Cardi’s would cost, not that I thought my teeth needed fixing or anything. I’m pretty happy with my smile. I’m not saying it’s perfect, but I’ve never had to wear braces and everything looks like it’s pretty much where it should be. But in the name of journalism, I needed my Bardi smile.
I couldn't go to just anyone either, it had to be the same dentist that took the rapper’s grill to the next level. After a little digging, I found out that Dr. Catrise Austin of The Smilist Dental in New York City was the woman behind the job and responsible for plenty of A-List mouths (ironically, she’s a spokesperson for Colgate Total, too).
I called up Dr. Austin and she was kind enough to have myself and two other BET.com editors come in for a complimentary consultation to see what we could have fixed. Before our appointment, I sent her headshots showcasing our best toothy grins so she could digitally create our “afters” and we could see the difference.
We arrived to her office located in the heart of 57th Street’s “Billionaire’s Row” and saw the autographed photos by everyone from Anthony Anderson to A$AP Rocky covering every inch of the walls. Just from the walls covered with celeb clientele alone I knew we were in the presence of dentistry royalty, nevermind that she was voted one of the “Top 25 Women in Dentistry” in 2015. We each took turns discussing our concerns while Dr. Austin hit us with the facts on veneers, bonding, tooth shape and more. Yes, you can request to have you’re pearly whites shaped like Kelly Rowland’s if that's what your heart desires.
What I found out next shocked me. Dr. Austin explained I have a crooked smile and would need 10 veneers on the top row and another 10 on the bottom row to correct this — 20 total. At $2K per veneer, I was looking at a whopping $40K! She always recommends whitening, which runs for about $500, but since I’d be putting down a payment equivalent to what one would put down on a home, she threw me a freebie.
Upon further examination of my smile, I realized it is, in fact, crooked. Although I thought it was a long shot my next question was, “Do you take insurance?” And thank goodness, she does! She takes Delta and Aetna dental insurances and also has a range of payment plans to spread out the cost. Think of it as paying a mortgage on your teeth.
I was even more shocked to discover that my smile was the most expensive job from my team. Senior style editor Danielle Prescod would have to undergo bonding and whitening, ringing in at $3K, while fashion editor Shaleaya Brown would have to have to get six veneers and whitening done, ringing her in between $12.5K and $20.5K.
Cardi wasn’t lying about that bag. And since I didn't have one, I decided to forgo my $40K smile makeover and rock out with what God gave me. I will admit, the idea of a brand spankin’ new set of teeth was tempting. But, see, the way my bank account is set up…