Rosalia as soon decorates her teeth with a small shiny butterfly as with metal caps. These are striking dental jewels that have also been used by artists such as J Balvin, Madonna, Rihanna, Katy Perry, Beyonce or Miley Cyrus. While some users share videos on social networks with these types of accessories —sometimes purchased online— several oral health experts warn of their possible risks.
Amanda Lorenzo Rodriguez, a 25-year-old girl who works in a jewelry store, has four crystals in her teeth that make up a butterfly reminiscent of Rosalia’s. “Going on Pinterest and rapper videos and looking for streetwear and ghetto references, I used to see that they were wearing grillz or gems,” he says. Generally, these compositions “cost between 80 and 120 euros”, but she got an offer and paid 60. Although she has been with these stones for about two months, she sometimes forgets that she is wearing them. “When I look in the mirror and remember, it looks like I just put them back on,” she says.
There are jewels that stick to the dental surface semi-permanently, according to Ana Echeverria Manau, periodontist and director of the magazine Take care of your gums, of the Spanish Society of Periodontics (SEPA). This is the case of “small diamonds or some designs in gold and silver”.
On the other hand, there would be grillzs, metallic crowns that are usually larger and adorn one or more teeth. Oscar Castro Reino, president of the General Council of Dentists, points out that they are normally made of gold, silver or other precious material and are embedded with diamonds. There are several types: “Those that are fixed and require prior preparation of the tooth where they are placed, which entails wearing down the enamel and part of the dentin (a tissue that is under the enamel); and the removable ones, which are ordered to be done after taking a dental impression”. There are also some with a standard shape that “adapt much worse to the tooth.”
A symbol of wealth and power
Grillz or dental covers are not a new trend in the history of jewelry. “Actually, its roots can be traced back to 2,500 BC, when Etruscan and Mayan women used them as a symbol of wealth and power,” explains Jorge Sanchez Carrasco, grillz manager at Grillzmadriz. However, it was in the 1980s when “they became popular in the United States thanks to hip hop culture and its artists.”
These jewels have evolved and have become “something more than just fashion”: “They are a unique piece of jewelry, such as a ring or pendant.” Sanchez affirms that these complements adapt to the teeth of each client and are easy to remove and put on at any time —although there are those who decide to have them fixed permanently. At Grillzmadriz, they began manufacturing this type of jewelry in 2017. Since then, they say, demand has grown. Among the influential personalities with whom they have worked, they mention the actors Paco Leon and Aron Piper.
How are grillz created?
The manufacturing process of a grillz in this workshop lasts around two weeks, according to details by Jorge and Fabian Sanchez Carrasco, in charge of personalized jewelry at Grillz Madriz. The first step is to create a stone model that represents the dental impression of the client and that is later used to model the piece using the hand wax modeling technique or through a 3D design. The grillz are then fabricated into the desired metal using a casting process, polished and carefully mold-fitted by hand to ensure a perfect fit. Finally, a jeweler sets the diamonds in the piece and personalizes it.
Grillz designs can be highly variable. Some clients ask Alvaro Urdiales Carabajal, a 3D jewelry designer, for a very clear idea of what they want, while others give him more freedom. The most common “is usually a pair of dental pieces, either complete (covers that completely cover the tooth) or window (with a hole inside), or a combination of both”. But there are also “very crazy” and original designs: from a broken heart to multiple upper and lower pieces set with precious stones or a diastema (a piece that is placed between the junction of the teeth).
When Lorenzo got a butterfly on his teeth, he was not interested in whether the crystals could cause any problems for his oral health because “he really wanted it.” As he recalls, they recommended that he lead a normal life but avoid drinking hot drinks for the next hour “just in case.” Echeverria explains that this type of jewelry, when it is this small, has “few implications for dental health”, although it favors the accumulation of bacterial plaque around it. If they are more voluminous, the periodontist warns that “they can generate wounds on the inside of the lips and cheeks.”
The damage to the tooth structure depends, in part, on the method of fixing the jewel, according to Nestor Montesdeoca Garcia, associate chief of the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Service at Hospital Universitario La Luz: “It can vary depending on the design, from a simple cementing on the enamel, the least damaging, up to the encrustation, in which the dental surface must be eroded to fix the jewel”, he points out.
Isabel Giraldez, president of the Spanish Society of Conservative and Aesthetic Dentistry (SEOC) and medical director of the Albus Dental Studio Clinic, stresses that, sometimes, to place larger dental jewels, you have to “thin the thickness of the enamel, which can lead to an increase in dental sensitivity”. For all these reasons, Montesdeoca advises against these jewels: “In the end, patients get tired, the trend passes and the tooth must be repaired.”
Castro insists on the importance of knowing the possible risks of wearing grillz: “Fashion cannot be at odds with health.” Among the main problems associated with its use, he mentions the increased risk of cavities, interference with the usual bite and even pain and alteration in the temporomandibular joint (the one that connects the jaw to the lateral part of the head). In some cases, “allergies to the materials used have also been described.”
Grillz can also cause abrasion of the teeth that surround them, according to Juan Carlos Perez Varela, president of the Spanish Orthodontic Society (SEDO), who is also not a supporter of “this type of trend.” In addition, “its prolonged use can discolor or stain the teeth, depending on the material they are made of”, and if they are not correctly adapted, “they can cause trauma, fractures, and even problems such as gingivitis, periodontal disease or gum recession. ”. Precisely for this reason, Castro advises opting for a grillz adapted to the specific contour of the tooth rather than one with a standard shape.
Despite the warnings from these scientific societies and experts, from Grillz Madrid they affirm that personalized grillz are “a safe aesthetic option as long as they are used appropriately”. Jorge Sanchez points out that they must be carried out by a professional and that their wearers have to follow some recommendations such as not eating or sleeping with them, in addition to having good hygiene and keeping them clean to avoid the accumulation of dirt and bacteria.
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Source: EL PAIS