What’s the secret behind the sparkling smiles of movie stars, hip-hop artists and rappers? Aside from having clean, white teeth, many celebrities use dental grills – decorative covers made of gold, silver or other precious metals that cost from $20 to thousands of dollars. These devices – also known as “grillz” or fronts – snap over one or more teeth to give the user a Hollywood smile.
“The trend toward tooth coverings was boosted in recent years by hip-hop icons and rappers such as Nelly and Paul Wall. Although wealthy musicians and some athletes have spent thousands of dollars to decorate their teeth with grills made of gold and platinum, most teenagers and young adults who want to emulate these celebrities do so by purchasing inexpensive do-it-yourself kits online or from local jewelers. Some jewelers and other grill vendors are unaware that, in some states, taking an impression of someone’s mouth is considered dentistry, which requires a license,” said the American Dental Association (ADA).
Dental grills are often removable but some people have altered their teeth to resemble a grill. Others use permanent cement to attach the grill. The ADA warned that this can destroy teeth and tissues.
“At present there are no studies that show that grills are harmful to the mouth – but there are no studies that show that their long-term wear is safe either. Some grills are made from non-precious (base) metals that may cause irritation or metal-allergic reactions,’ the ADA said.
To avoid trouble, don’t forget to brush and floss regularly. Poor oral hygiene can cause many problems for dental grill users. This is because food and other debris may lodge between the teeth and the grill, causing bacteria to multiply.
The acids produced by these bacteria can damage the teeth and gums. The same bacteria may also give you bad breath and irritate surrounding oral tissues.
“Grills bring with them potential problems such as irritation of gum tissue that can cause infection from food and other debris trapped under the grill. We’re also looking at a haven for bacteria to collect and produce tooth-decay causing acid, possible chipped teeth and even shifting of the teeth,” explained Dr. Matt Messina, ADA consumer advisor.
These problems can be minimized or prevented by removing the grill before eating and cleaning it daily to remove plaque and other bacteria. When cleaning your grill, don’t use jewelry cleaners or other potentially poisonous substances that you could ingest. Lastly, limit the amount of time you use the grill.
“If you are considering getting a dental grill, make sure you talk to your dentist first. Find out exactly what materials the grill is made of and avoid creating a breeding ground for bacteria. Grills might be trendy for the moment, but ‘pearly whites’ will never go out of style,” the ADA concluded.
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