Bedazzled Teeth are Back in Style

Fashion appears to be coming back full circle, especially when it comes to trends from the 90s. Over the past few years, we’ve seen at least attempted comebacks with everything from jelly shoes and Birkenstock sandals to Tamagotchi keychain pets and Pokemon.

One trend making a comeback, called tooth gems, have taken over Instagram and flooded it with photos of both celebrities and everyday fashionistas and trendsetters rocking their new bling. Tooth gems are small silver, gold or crystal embellishments applied to the tooth as an accent statement similar to styles found in nail art. During the 90s, the trend was at its highest point in modern history.

It seemed to have lost its steam and faded into the history books until Katy Perry, in 2015, was seen sporting a Nike swish tooth gem in gold by a fan. Then at this years’ iHeart Music Awards, she confirmed it on a funny Instagram post after being photographed with quinoa in her teeth while the media was looking for the elusive tooth gem in extreme close-up photos. It read: “Currently taking applications for real friends who aren’t afraid to tell me there’s quinoa in my teeth.”

As far as 2,500 years ago, scientists believe Native Americans were bejeweling their teeth in many of the same ways that are becoming popular once again today according to National Geographic News. The researchers looked at thousands of teeth from Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History and discovered that many of the ancient people rocking the tooth embellishments were men and that it had nothing to do with social class. The wide variety of those found with décor on their teeth came from all different backgrounds and places in the hierarchy of societies.

The early dentists that performed these likely used hard stones as dental drills to add shape or texture to the teeth and to make small holes to place the decorative stones and sometimes even made of very valuable materials such as jade. To adhere the stones to the teeth, scientists and researchers believe they used a mixture of sap from plants and other materials including crushed bones, according to an article in the National Geographic News. This must have worked well considering many of the teeth have been found with the stones still intact.

Today, the application process is a little different than it was 2,500 years ago. To begin with, no drill is involved. The embellishments are thin, small and placed right on the surface of the tooth. When applied by a professional, a special adhesive is used that’s main purpose is the application of brackets needed in orthodontics for braces. This special material seals out bacteria to protect the enamel under the metal attachments and can last up to two years.

Since they are much safer to apply than their ancient counterparts and don’t leave giant holes in the teeth when removed, they’ve become quite popular. Many dentists don’t have a problem with them as long as they are placed by a medical professional, preferably a dentist, to ensure that the correct adhesive is used and that the enamel is protected and bacteria is sealed out correctly said Dr. Kevin Pollock, DDS, MS an oral surgeon with Pinnacle Oral Surgery Specialists in the Dallas metroplex. He warns against attempting to DIY anything that involves your teeth.

“Of course, as a dentist, I would recommend leaving your teeth alone unless something was medically necessary. Many patients are disappointed with the discoloration associated with bracket placement when their braces are removed,” he said. “The same situation applies; after removal, you may experience discoloration where the embellishment was placed. Some may even find the enamel damaged underneath. At the very least, use extreme caution when considering something like this and consult with your dentist before and after you do anything involving the mouth or teeth.”