Celebrities have a knack for introducing bold style trends to the masses. Sometimes, it is for better and sometimes it is far worse. One recent trend that has started to catch on in some niche areas is jewelry for your teeth. This cosmetic accessory can take several forms and does not always require a dentist be involved in the application.
The most basic form of tooth jewelry is a small gem or icon that is affixed to a single tooth. This is generally done using a dental cement or other form of adhesive. The primary possible negative effect of doing this is that there can be localized demineralization of the tooth at the site, which can damage tooth enamel, affect oral health, increase the chances of gum disease, and lead to tooth decay. If the adhesive material contains any toxic or damaging ingredients this is even more of a possibility. Having tooth jewelry affixed to the tooth can also invite food and debris to hang around if not brushed properly. Again, this can lead to the breaking down of tooth enamel, gum disease, and potential cavities. If you play a contact sport or are at risk of being hit in the face, having a hard item affixed to your teeth can magnify the force of the impact and end up chipping or cracking the tooth.
Even if there is no structural damage done to the tooth, if you wear the jewel for a long period of time it is possible for the exposed surface of your tooth to undergo staining due to normal environmental exposure. This means that when the jewel is removed there will be a lighter spot where it once was. No amount of bleaching will be able to correct the difference in color. When the time comes to take the jewel off there can be damage done in the removal. If the adhesive does not come off cleanly then you will need to see your dentist to grind it down and restore the surface of the tooth.
If you still feel the need to glue some gems to your teeth, then it is highly recommended that you attach it to a veneer or a crown instead of your actual tooth. This mitigates much of the risk of long-term damage, though plenty of the warnings listed here can still apply. No matter where they are installed jewels can also irritate the inside of your mouth and be uncomfortable in general.
A grill is a molded cover for your teeth that is made from a base metal which may also have jewels encrusted for design purposes. They usually only cover a few visible teeth but can cover the entire row if desired. In some cases, wearers will have a gold crown permanently attached and may modify the crown with jewels as well. One should never attempt to attach a removable grill with dental glue since these are not designed for permanent installation and can damage the teeth and surrounding tissue.
While there is technically no long-term study showing that grills are bad for your teeth they certainly do not come recommended by the American Dental Association. If the wearer is allergic to the base metal, they may have an allergic reaction in their gums. The grill should be removed and thoroughly cleaned on a regular basis to keep it from developing buildup. The wearer should also be removing it to brush and floss after every meal. It is much easier for food and beverages to get caught between the grill and the teeth and then stick around long enough to lead to damage and decay. The bacteria that live in the mouth require just a small amount of sugar or carbohydrate fuel to begin producing enamel-eroding acids, so the negative effects of consuming something like soda can easily be amplified by the presence of the grill.
Having a grill in your mouth can drastically alter your bite which can be uncomfortable and also damage to your teeth. Your jaws are aligned in a way that lets the bottom and top teeth contact each other in the most optimal way. Suddenly changing this bite means that your teeth may be contacting in sub-optimal places like weak spots or high spots that then experience more pressure than normal, leading to premature wear and tear. For this reason, it is recommended that the grill is not worn in excess and it certainly should not be worn while eating.
Soft Tissue Jewelry
Though not technically teeth jewelry, oral piercings such as those through the lip, tongue, and cheek should also be discussed for those looking to add some bling to their mouth. If not performed and cared for properly, these piercings can easily become infected when they are first obtained. The long-term wearing of oral jewelry can also pose several risks for your mouth.
Piercings can make speaking, chewing, and swallowing difficult, especially if they become infected. They can cause damage to your tongue and gums, but the hard surfaces in your mouth are equally at risk. It is all too easy to accidentally bite down the wrong way or otherwise cause trauma to your mouth where the piercing ends up damaging a filling or chipping a tooth.
In general, the American Dental Association has not issued any guidelines specifically for teeth jewelry but they do warn against oral piercings. With this in mind, it is probably expected that if the teeth jewelry trend takes off the way tongue piercings did, they would probably issue a formal warning against gems and grills as well. While it may seem like a cute and harmless accessory, it is much easier than you think to mess with your teeth and cause problems. If you feel it absolutely necessary to pursue this fad, keep a few things in mind: always consult with your dentist first, use a product that they can sign off on (if not recommend), get very serious about your oral hygiene, and always go with something temporary. Even if you are on your third or fourth jewel you never know when you might suddenly change your mind or need to remove it.