Dentists Not Thrilled with Grillz
Question: “Dr. Arnold, my teenage son is obsessed with getting a “grill” for his teeth. What do I need to know about “grillz” as a parent before he does this?”
Answer: Grillz are removable teeth covers that are usually made of gold, platinum, or silver. They can be made to fit over two, four, six, or all of the upper and/or lower teeth. Often gems are also incorporated into these metal “frameworks.” Some people even incorporate their initials, symbols or words into their grillz. A grill can cost anywhere from twenty to several thousand dollars per tooth, depending upon the type of framework and the number and quality of gems used.
Hip-hop artists have been wearing grillz for more than a decade. They were popularized and began to enter the mainstream after the 2005 song “Grillz” by the pop-artist Nelly. There are now men and women of all ethnicities having grillz custom-made to fit over their teeth. Additionally, many teenagers are emulating their favorite MTV stars.
Unfortunately, these dental “accessories” can be very damaging to the teeth and gums that they cover up and bite against. Teeth can be chipped or broken; cavities can form, and gum disease can be caused by the bacteria and food that become trapped under these appliances. If cheap metals are used, allergic reactions can also be a problem.
Usually, grillz are removable, which means that they can at least be cleaned regularly, but jewelry cleaners can create adverse reactions such as burning the gums. If they are cemented in place, the results can be particularly devastating because there is no way to keep the teeth clean.
It has become a multi-million dollar business, seemingly overnight. In some cities, there are jewelry stores and mall kiosks doing a brisk business selling and fabricating these trendy mouthpieces. First, an impression is made of the teeth. Then the appliance is either made on-site, or it is sent to a jeweler and completed within a couple of weeks. In many states, these impressions can only be made in a dental office, however.
Personally, I would not allow my children to wear grillz – not because of esthetic concerns, but due to the inherent risks. If you choose to allow your son to wear a grill, please make sure that he only wears it occasionally. He should keep it clean and be diligent in caring for his teeth and gums. You should probably plan for additional dental expenses associated with more frequent cleanings and possible harmful consequences of his appliance.
Dr. Jim Arnold is a practicing dentist in Chesterton and Valparaiso. He is also a clinical mentor with the Hornbrook Group and serves on the Advisory Board for the Academy of Comprehensive Esthetics as the Fellowship Chairman. You may send questions to his office at: 1830 South 11th Street, Chesterton, IN 46304 or email them to: drarnold@SmilesByArnold.com. More information on this or many other dental topics can be found at www.SmilesByArnold.com.