During my visit to Vietnam, I started to learn some of the traditions and customs of the Vietnamese people. One of the traditions is the blackening of the tooth or tooth lacquering. When I first say this, my initial thought was that they were missing their teeth. Upon further inspection, I saw that it was actually blackened.
My tour guide then explained the older (traditionalist) generation would blacken their tooth with lacquer. The process would take approximately two weeks from the lacquering to the inflammation to the healing. Upon further research, the lacquering of the teeth is a painful process. Below are several articles regarding the process:
Furthermore, they would chew betel nut to keep the shine of the lacquer. The betel nut is the fruit of an Areca tree and lime paste wrapped in a leaf of the betel pepper vine. It is chewed in a similar way to tobacco.
There are various reasons for tooth blackening, such as the women are ready for marriage. This tradition is no longer practiced.
The second tradition is sleeping on hard beds (no mattress or cushion). In Hanoi, I met these remarkable young ladies. They are in their 80s. The ladies sleep on a hard bed as shown in this picture.
The second lady developed a “humpback”.
The first lady did not. Since these women have children and grandchildren who can provide, I asked why are they not sleeping on mattresses. The Vietnamese are accustomed to their way of life.
Both of these ladies have blackened teeth. Tradition is very important to the Vietnamese and it is very respectful.