The Curious Case of Freddie Mercury's Teeth

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Do a search on Freddie Mercury, and one of the first auto-fill suggestions that Google will give you is "freddie mercury teeth." It seems Freddie's famous overbite was just as legendary as the man himself, and the story that's been told countless times about his mouth is that it contained four extra teeth.

Many people claim all four of them were on the top jaw and that these teeth were responsible for pushing out his front ones into a prominent overbite. According to Queen folklore, Freddie didn't want to have the extra teeth removed or try to have the overbite fixed because he was worried doing so could possibly change the sound and range of his voice.

But, after diving deeper into this story as well as viewing numerous photos and videos showing Freddie's teeth, I'm not so sure that four extra ones actually existed. Like so many other facets of Freddie's personal life, it's hard to know what is and isn't true.

So, if you can bear with an unusual post from a rabid Queen fan, here's what we do (and don't know) about Freddie Mercury's teeth.

Freddie's Complicated Relationship With His Teeth

First, let me say that I personally don't see anything "wrong" or unattractive about Freddie Mercury's teeth. For starters, I have a bit of an overbite myself. My two front teeth are a little on the large side and I have slight spaces between some of my front teeth. Before I became a huge fan of his, sometimes I didn't like the way my teeth looked, and I even contemplated getting Invisalign at some point to correct the slight gaps.

Then I became a Queen fan and realized if Freddie was comfortable smiling and opening his mouth wide while singing, I didn't have anything to feel self conscious about.

And therein lies a contradiction about how Freddie felt about his smile and what he showed us on the stage. Freddie Mercury seemed to have had a complicated relationship with his teeth. According to Rami Malek, who played him in Bohemian Rhapsody, Freddie was cruelly called "Bucky" by schoolmates because of his teeth.

Sometimes he would bring his upper lip down to try to cover them and during several interviews he puts his hand up to his mouth to try to hide his teeth when something makes him laugh hard.

via GIPHY


Numerous people who were close to Freddie have said that he was really self conscious about the overbite. But on stage and in music videos, he had no qualms about opening his mouth wide and even throwing his head back to unleash that astounding voice that sounded like it was summoned directly from the gods.

via GIPHY

BUT...we do know that Freddie said many times that his stage persona and the real him were not the same person. He was very confident and extroverted while performing while sometimes a little shy away from the spotlight. Nonetheless, the fabulous teeth were always on full display when he was singing.

And, there are plenty of photos of him online smiling and you can't really tell from a majority of these pictures that there was something different about his teeth. The overbite really isn't all that noticeable except in a handful of them, and it's not necessarily an overbite I consider unattractive (I've seen much worse.) In fact, I've only seen maybe three or four photos showing him smiling in such a way that it makes his front teeth look especially prominent and two of them are from his childhood and teen years. It's also as if his front teeth were oversized but then he grew into them as he matured into adulthood.


The infamous mustache, in my opinion, also worked extremely well for him and helped "hide" the overbite.

Two "Extra" Bottom Teeth?

In the movie Bohemian Rhapsody, Freddie reveals to Roger Taylor and Brian May shortly upon meeting them that he has four extra incisors. "More space in my mouth means more range," he tells them.

Only we don't know if he really did have four extra incisors. One thing I did spot from watching music videos is he had two noticeable teeth on the bottom that are out of place. They're right in front of the row of bottom teeth. Below is a screenshot for Queen's "Headlong" video where you can really see them.


At first I thought, "Cool! This does seem to confirm the extra teeth story." (And they make him look like a sexy vampire.) Unfortunately, those two teeth may not be extra ones but simply two misplaced ones that didn't have room to go where they were supposed to go. When I posted the screenshot to Quora at least one dental hygienist and another person who may have been a dentist said they were misplaced teeth due to crowding. The clue is that he has a bicuspid right next to the four bottom middle teeth.

Further complicating the extra teeth theory is a fan on a Queen Facebook group page I belong to said they read that Freddie had all four of his wisdom teeth (I didn't ask them where they read it, but perhaps it's in a biography.) His mouth was large enough and the wisdom teeth came in straight so he didn't have to have them removed (fun fact! This is another teeth trait I have in common with my favorite performer.)

So, while wisdom teeth aren't considered "extra" teeth (although many adults need to have theirs extracted) it's possible this factoid got twisted into the "four extra teeth" story that circulates about Freddie to this day.

And it's also still possible that Freddie did have extra teeth in the back on top in addition to the two wisdom teeth up there. Photos and videos I've seen so far don't show anything "extra" on top but we're not seeing all of the way back in his mouth, so who knows.

Having extra teeth is a real dental condition, by the way. It's known as hyperdontia and the extra teeth are called supernumerary ones. As it can be a genetic condition, some sources have speculated that Freddie inherited it from his mother's side of the family (if he did indeed have it.)

Freddie's Fear of the Dentist

So, you would think that if you're the biggest rock star on the planet and you're VERY concerned about wanting to keep all of your teeth to maintain your voice, that you would be going to the very best dentist in London every six months for a cleaning and check-up, right?

Not when it came to Freddie Mercury. 

Something that I recently learned about Freddie that really surprised me is that he had a dental phobia. I suspect a lot of it had to do with the braces he wore as a kid on his teeth that were described as "painful" by at least one biography on him.

It could also be he was worried a dentist would try to start to fix his overbite while he was sedated having other work done. People who are afraid of going to the dentist may also don't like the loss of control they feel while they're held sort of captive in the dentist's chair.

Whatever the reason, poor Freddie, like so many of us, was not a fan of dentists. He even says so in this scanned Q&A page I found online that came from 16 magazine (check out his answer to what his greatest fear is.) Never mind that local anesthetic and laughing gas were readily available in the '70s and '80s.

And...uh-oh; look at what he answered for "favorite foods." That's not a good idea, Fred! 


Roger Taylor (who, ironically, was about to study dentistry when Queen was formed) also says in a documentary that he believes it was fear that kept Freddie from looking into fixing his overbite.

Despite all this (and a heavy smoking habit starting in the early '80s...!!!) the man had what was absolutely pristine (and white!) looking teeth. There's no visible cavities or even any dental work in any video of him singing or photos showing his mouth open wide. No doubt his at-home oral care was exemplary.

***UPDATE: As a commenter on this post noted, Freddie did get some silver fillings on a few upper teeth done at some point and since she left that comment, I have seen one photo of him singing that shows a small one.

Also, Freddie's partner Jim Hutton wrote in his memoir Mercury and Me that Freddie did visit a dentist once a year despite his loathing of them and would "be in both agony and ecstasy" while having his teeth cleaned by the hygienist. ("She really gets at 'em!" he would declare when leaving the dental office.)

For some reason, I feel better knowing he did eventually visit a dentist for regular check-ups and had his cavities taken care of. 

Jim also says in the book that Freddie was born with a few extra teeth on top which were responsible for the overbite. He added that the reason he never got his teeth fixed is because he simply wasn't vain enough to be bothered. He knew they were his trademark.***

The following story is why, even with the best of dental hygiene, we still need to see a dentist regularly to make sure everything is OK...

A Toothache Catapults the Sex Pistols' Career

Freddie's refusal to see a dentist regularly for check-ups (at least earlier in his career) caught up with him not long after the success of Queen's career changing masterpiece, "Bohemian Rhapsody." On December 1, 1976 the band was due to appear on Tonight With Bill Grundy (a London daytime talk show.)

Poor Freddie, however, had developed a toothache and had to make an emergency dental visit—the first time in 15 years he sat in a dentist's chair, according to several music websites that have talked about this story. Queen canceled on short notice and EMI, who also represented the Sex Pistols, sent them as a replacement.

What followed that day is worthy of its own blog post, but the profanity-laced interview, which wasn't helped by a drunken Grundy egging band members on, soon cost the TV host his career. The Sex Pistols, on the other hand, gained notoriety from the controversial exchange.

My fellow Queen fans probably know the story of how Sid Vicious later instigated Freddie by asking him if he had succeeded in "bringing ballet to the masses yet" during a confrontation in the recording studio one day between the two bands. Freddie called him Simon Ferocious and asked him what he was going to do about it before grabbing him by the lapels, and shoving him out the door. (Vicious should have been more grateful for Freddie's bad tooth and twist of fate.)

Was the hot tooth pulled or did Freddie receive a root canal? I'm guessing it was the latter...because in photos from the '80s, he doesn't appear to be missing any teeth.


The Whole Tooth and Nothing But the Tooth

So, did Freddie Mercury really have four extra teeth? I think the bottom line is we really don't know for sure.

Only his dentist would be able to confirm anything for us and we don't know who that was and if they're still alive. It doesn't appear that Freddie had extra teeth from numerous photos and videos, but a dentist would have seen his entire mouth. Unfortunately, Freddie is not here to tell us the truth, either.

Despite numerous people saying in documentaries that he did have extra teeth, there isn't an interview I've come across yet with Freddie either on film or audio confirming it for sure. So far the only quote I found regarding him speaking about his teeth is that he planned on having the overbite fixed when he had the time and..."other than that, I'm perfect."

What we do know is that he was an exceptionally attractive man and his teeth totally add to his uniqueness and hotness.

Would having the overbite fixed have really altered his signing voice? Many doctors and dentists have speculated no. In fact, this voice teacher goes into great detail to explain the body's anatomy that forms our voice and believes had Freddie got his teeth fixed, it would have had little to no impact on his singing voice. Whatever phobia Freddie had about having his overbite corrected was apparently in his mind.

For now the truth about Freddie's four extra teeth remains a mystery.

5 comments:

  1. Great story Pam.. And you are beautiful.. overbite, spacers.. whatever.

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  2. I am fascinated by this beautiful man, and his teeth drive me wild because of their uniqueness. There is a video where he is singing that shows he had fillings done at some point; don't know which it was right off hand, but they are on the upper left. I did not know until today he had the extra teeth in the front on the bottom. Even MORE awesome!!

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    1. Hi Jackie—thanks for your comment. I absolutely agree and for some reason I feel better knowing Freddie had his cavities taken care of...LOL. I still think the two "extra" visible teeth on the bottom were just misplaced ones but they do make him even more awesome as you say. He was a one in a billion man.

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  3. Beautiful man...inside And out. The sheer talent, looks and personality makes you forget all about his teeth. If only he were still here with us...Even after all these years...he will never be forgotten. Still love you Freddie

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