HEBE Tien loved chewing candies growing up, but loathed brushing her teeth after.
The result, for this member of bubbly Taiwanese girl group S.H.E, was a less than perfect smile that didn't stand up to the close scrutiny of audiences and showbiz peers.
In her younger days, she was so determined to avoid cleaning her pearly whites that she would jump straight into bed after merely wetting her toothbrush.
Her mother, though concerned about her dental hygiene, would fall for Hebe's playful trickery.
|Natural: Hebe says it's difficult to spot which of her teeth have dental crowns because they look so natural.
The 25-year-old pop singer was in town on Friday to talk about her teeth. She has been appointed the first Asian spokesman for Nobel Biocare, a firm specialising in dental implants andcrowns.
Hebe told The New Paper on Sunday: 'It was only after I entered showbusiness that I realised how important it was to have a set of beautiful teeth.'
Her turnaround has been quite dramatic. She now brushes her teeth 'very carefully' twice a day and flosses after every meal. And every six months, she makes a trip to the dentist.
This, mind you, used to be her greatest fear. As a girl, she would resist going until she could neither sit nor stand from an awful toothache.
She admitted that she previously had a metal-based crown on her tooth, but felt that its colour looked unnatural and it didn't have a natural shine.
She was afraid of taking close-up photos in case someone spotted her 'fake' tooth.
Today, she boasts longer-lasting Sweden-made ceramic crowns for two of her teeth, courtesy of Nobel Biocare.
Which two, we asked?
Well, 'the amazing thing about this is that you can't tell which two', she said cheekily. 'I think the confidence I get from having prettier teeth is priceless.'
For the hundreds who turned up to catch a glimpse of their idol, Hebe's self-assuredness was apparent.
She walked calmly onto the stage to ecstatic screams, and went on to charm her fans and the photographers with a variety of cutesy poses.
Topped off with a dazzling white smile, of course.
And she is not stopping at two dental crowns. She said she would get implants, which require a more complicated - and painful - procedure, if the need arises.
And if fellow S.H.E members Selina Jen and Ella Chen want her captivating smile, she knows where to point themto.
'But Ella probably won't need it. She was born with much better teeth than Selina and I were,' Hebe said.
When reporters asked her what she thought of the teeth of someone she would date, she said with a laugh: 'I will refuse to kiss him, if his teeth are bad.'
Her trip to Singapore lasted less than 24 hours - just enough time for her to pop by Clarke Quay to eat her favourite local dish - black pepper crabs (she flossed after that, of course).
But she will be back soon, she promised her fans, as S.H.E's latest album is scheduled for a late August release. Yet, two months is apparently too long a wait for some.
As her van left the venue, fans hopped into two cabs waiting at the taxi stand.
See that set of glittering teeth, Uncle?
This article was first published in The New Paper on Jun 29, 2008.