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The Secret Behind Christie Brinkley's Supermodel Smile

How her smile changed the face of modeling forever

Christie Brinkley Dentistry.
"I think my smile was really
my passport to success in
the modeling industry."

For over thirty years, people have been drawn to the one-of-a-kind smile of Christie Brinkley. It's more than the fact that her American beauty has dominated fashion modeling since the Seventies — in a simple, refreshing way, the Christie Brinkley look has come to symbolize America's optimism.

Brinkley is the essence of cheery — which shouldn't be confused with a life of easy success devoid of trouble. Even as America has had its share of recent troubles, so has Brinkley had her share of personal woes. Her smile, though, hasn't faded. Her public persona seems unmarred by her real life drama and when she flashes that smile we get a feeling that all is well. As one recent interviewer observed, she can talk while smiling, especially as she discusses her hopes and plans for the future. And, Christie has put plans for her future in motion. Known for caring about the environment — the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat — she's concentrating now on the development of her company Christie, Inc., which will feature products that are environmentally friendly. She still promotes the Total Gym® with Chuck Norris (remember their infomercials?). And, of course, she still models, though not at the torrid pace she once set.

Since her debut in the early Seventies, Brinkley's familiar face has graced nearly five hundred magazine covers, including an unprecedented three consecutive Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Editions. Her twenty-year contract with CoverGirl® made her nearly synonymous with the cosmetic brand — beautiful, feminine, going places.

Brinkley had never thought of herself as the "modeling" type — aloof, sophisticated, often expressionless and painfully thin. She fit the "girl-next-door" or the "California surfer girl" image — approachable, believable, healthy and wholesome. But Eileen Ford once stated that when she saw the uniquely warm beauty exuding from that beautiful face and dazzling smile she at once knew that no one could be more qualified for modeling than Christie Brinkley. And so began our love affair with an American icon, the All-American girl, glowing, healthy, beautiful and of course still flashing that radiant smile.

She's also a familiar face to television, film and music audiences. She will be forever known as Chevy Chase's fantasy girl — complete with red Ferrari — in the 1983 hit comedy National Lampoon's Vacation and of course, as Billy Joel's "Uptown Girl."

In an interview with Dear Doctor, Christie Brinkley answered some of our questions about her rise to fame and that beautiful smile of hers.

Q + A with Christie Brinkley

Dear Doctor: Christie, as truly one of the most beautiful and recognizable faces in the world, how did your career first get started?
I moved to Paris at 18 to pursue art studies, and worked briefly there as an illustrator. In the spring of 1973, my life changed when I was spotted walking down Rue Pernety in Paris, by a fashion designer looking for a special look for an assignment. He told me later he immediately thought, 'That's the girl!'.

I soon went to work for Elite Model Management and began picking up photo assignments around Paris. I later returned home to California, where I signed on with the Eileen Ford Modeling Agency, the beginning of a thirty-year professional relationship with the firm.

Did the modeling world require you to have any dentistry done or did you always have a natural, beautiful smile?
No, they just wanted me to STOP CHEWING!!!!! (They always want you thinner! (Ha, Ha!)

You became a "supermodel" in the '80s, appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit Edition a record 3 straight years. How have you seen the business change since you started your career?
I am happy to say that beauty has evolved to include all ethnicities, shapes, sizes and ages... And models have gone from nameless "clothes hangers" to fully branded household names... It's a REAL career today!

Everyone thinks that models and movie stars have had some cosmetic dentistry. We have to ask you what the secret is to your famous smile.
I am very fortunate, it's called genetics, which is the most precious gift any of us could have along with the intelligence to take care of that gift by practicing good oral hygiene and having regular dental appointments.

As a teenager, did you need any orthodontic work done to correct tooth alignment?
I lucked out and got my mom's beautiful straight teeth — I never needed braces and I never got cavities. That doesn't mean I didn't want braces, because it seemed like the coolest kids had them — I wanted them so badly I would bend a paper clip and wear it like a retainer.

Christie Brinkley Modeling on Runway
"I only did a couple of runway shows and I couldn't wipe the smile off my face!"

Runway models are often times expressionless, letting the clothes or fashion take center stage. Is it considered unprofessional for runway models to smile or is it a reflection of an individual's personality?
I only did a couple of runway shows and I couldn't wipe the smile off my face!

If someone was interested in modeling but had a poor smile that required improvement, would you suggest they get their smile improved before seeing the modeling agencies, or after getting an expert opinion of what is needed for the type of work that may be involved?
I always think it's good to get a second EXPERT opinion... And when it comes to teeth, keep it as natural as possible... do not go OVER board on whitening... you want your teeth to compliment your face... Your friends should not be required to wear sunglasses when you smile!

Your smile radiates health and beauty. What do you think a smile says about a person?
I think a smile makes EVERYONE beautiful! It's the greatest gift we give each other... It's an expression of friendship, love and peace!

During your career, did you ever feel pressured to undergo dental procedures to enhance your smile for different medias? For example, print photography versus film?
No! But I did get in a very bad helicopter crash while back country skiing and as a result I fractured two molars in the back of my mouth and I had to get two dental implants... While I am grateful for the dental implant technology that feels and looks so natural, just thinking of that accident makes my teeth ACHE! OUCHIWAWA!

Have you ever been given a modeling assignment specifically for dental products because of your smile?
I think my smile was really my passport to success in the modeling industry. I recently became the spokesperson for ACT® brand of oral rinse and mouthwash products because of its demonstrated ability to fight tooth decay, rebuild tooth enamel, and prevent cavities. ACT® has a product for all ages — kids, teens, young adults, baby boomers, and seniors. All of the ACT® products taste great, keeps breath fresh, but most importantly make teeth strong and healthy which is the foundation of a healthy smile.

What currently makes you smile?
Saturday Night Live cracks me up! The cast is fantastic, the political humor is spot on... Let's face it we all need a good sense of humor these days!

When asked about her beauty secrets, Christie told us...

"I always say my best beauty secret is to smile... It's instantly UPLIFTING... Both for the face and the spirit! And today my theory has been scientifically proven, that a smile actually releases chemicals into our brain that makes us feel immediately happier! So go out and SMILE!"

So take advice from one of the most beautiful smiles in the world — take care of your smile, express it often and let your beauty shine!

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