When a little girl plays dress up in her mommy's wardrobe, we think it's cute. When she piles on the sparkly necklaces and bracelets, we understand that she is role-playing and experimenting with mommy's stuff. But when she puts these jewels into her mouth, we are likely to say, "no, honey, jewelry doesn't go in your mouth."
Well, it turns out, that may be true for large strings of pearls and toddler girls...but putting jewelry in your mouth is becoming more... fashionable? Better known as grills (or grillz), this mouth jewelry consists of metal plated covers or caps for the teeth, which can be encrusted with precious stones. We've seen their popularity pop lately with dental bling by celebrities from Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte and his American flag grill to Rihanna and her now-famous gold AK-47 oral ornament. Of course, of late, we've also spotted Madonna, Nelly, and Kim Kardashian with their mouth bling. And let's not forget to mention Katy Perry at the recent VMA show with a grill that spelled "ROAR," the name of her new hit single.
When did this all start? As far back as ancient times. Apparently, rich Mayans drilled pieces of jade into their teeth. In modern times, the trend began to rise in the 1980's with hip hop and rap artists sporting the look thanks to New Yorker Eddie Plein, owner of Eddie's Gold Teeth. He outfitted the likes of Flavor Fav, Big Daddy Kane, and Kool G. Rap. The next wave of popularity came with the rise of the "Dirty South" rappers in the 2000s, and their paradigmatic 2005 single "Grillz" by Nelly, Paul Wall, Big Gipp, and Ali. Rapper Paul Wall has since gone on to found his own grill business, with clients like Kanye West and Miley Cyrus. Grills can be made of gold, platinum, or silver and include precious gemstones, the most popular of which are white or colored diamonds.
And the trend only seems to be getting hotter. The designer of Madonna's gold grill, Albert Levy, told the NY Daily News, "Just this year in the summertime, I think Miley's the one that did it. We've been doing it [selling grills] for all the younger generation, all the girls." Paul Wall also insists that "All the fly girls are getting them now." And according to Wall, his website "Grills by Paul Wall" receives 150 requests a day. Prices range from about $150 to thousands of dollars, depending on size and material and whether it's a custom job.
Now hold on just a minute here, folks. Taking beautiful diamonds (or even just gold) and putting them on your teeth is at best a ridiculous waste of a stunning rock and at worst a horribly grotesque look akin to turning braces into jewelry or looking like the baddie in an action film a la Bane from the last Batman movie or the infamous James Bond henchman Jaws.
And while I definitely can't do anything to stop the likes of Miley and Nelly from blinging out their mouths, I would at least like to try to influence the newest targeted audience of this trend: teenage girls. Listen, "fly girls," if it's diamonds you're after, save your money and when you do buy them, wear them in a classy, dignified way that won't ruin your teeth or make you look like a monster. And speaking of ruining your teeth, the American Dental Association, after warning of all the potential dangers of wearing grills, strongly recommends, "Grills might be trendy at the moment, but 'pearly whites' will never go out of style." I couldn't agree more.
And seriously, people, how would you like to kiss someone with a grill?