Forget teeth whitening or veneers, women in Senegal are their quest for beautiful smiles to extreme levels – by tattooing their gums black.
Women in the west African country say their ancestors have been doing it for years and claim as well as giving a whiter smile, the procedure also protects the gums and stops bad breath.
The procedure was not well known internationally until recently when a video emerged showing a woman called Mariéme who goes under the needle, dailymail reports.
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More than 17,000 people have watched Mariéme endure the painful process online.
Mariéme said she had became ‘obsessed’ with the idea of getting her gums tattooed in order to achieve the perfect smile.
She pays a woman, who works from her family home, just 80p to tattoo a combination of burnt oil and shea butter into her gums.
The mixture is at first pressed onto her gums before a needle is repeatedly pricked into it.
Mariéme bears the pain at first, she is seen pushing the tattooist away in tears when the agony becomes too much.
With the black mixture smeared across her mouth and face, Mariéme is only able to have four of the seven layers she originally intended.
She tells the interviewer: ‘It hurts. I would never recommend this torture to anyone.’
However, despite the pain she later says she is more than happy with the results.
After a few days she says: ‘It really hurts. I thought I was going to die but I tried to hang on.
‘I don’t regret it now as I have beautiful gums. It’s necessary to be beautiful and attractive.’
The tattooist said the practice has been done for years in Senegal among women and even men in some tribes have their gums tattooed, although she admits woman are less interested these days.
She said: ‘Women should not have red gums. Her whole smile needs to be enchanting. A nice smile attracts men.’
She added: ‘Less and less women are doing this but some are still interested, especially women who are looking for a lover.’