Why you all in my grill? How these dental designs are putting your smile at risk

If you are going to wear grills, then pay attention to these tips to preserve your natural smile

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When Missy Elliot crooned, “Why you all in my grill? Can you pay my bills?” I can’t help but wonder if she specifically was referencing her dental expenses. These mouth ornaments have been around since ancient times, starting with the Etruscans who lived in Italy.

According to Joseph Becker’s 1999 study “Etruscan Gold Dental Appliances: Three Newly ‘Discovered’ Examples,” he found out that these dental designs have been around since 7th century BC and wealthy Etruscan women popularized them. They saw rise again through the hip-hop community in the 1980s and 1990s with many musical stars, ranging from Paul Wall to Nelly to Beyoncé rocking dental décor.

The mouth is the entry point to your respiratory and digestive tracts — so one may want to be careful with what they decide to house in this area. While the aesthetic is appealing to some, they aren’t the best option for maintaining healthy teeth.

Rapper Nelly makes an appearance on MTV’s Total Request Live on April 13, 2005 in New York City. (Photo by Peter Kramer/Getty Images)

“Temporary grills can serve as a food trap causing cavities if worn for extended periods of time,” explains Dr. Karthilde Appolon, DDS and part-time faculty member at Columbia University. If you are still dreaming of gold grills, Appolon adds, “Trapping food can cause cavities as well as periodontal disease.”

In addition to resulting in unnecessary dental work, wearing a grill consistently can shift your bite and thereby “change the way ones teeth come together making the bite uncomfortable,” Dr. Appolon states. Lastly, you can choke on your grill—“if it becomes loose and dislodged, it can block airway flow,” warns Dr. Appolon.

Some individuals are opting for permanent gold crowns to resemble a grill. Dr. Appolon reminds us that “enamel can never be regrown or regenerated; therefore, one has to be super meticulous when electively choosing to place gold crowns on healthy teeth.” It can be done and Dr. Appolon admits they “can be long lasting and function well if restored by a well trained dentist.”

Jaden Smith attends the “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garcons: Art Of The In-Between” Costume Institute Gala at Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 1, 2017 in New York City. (Credit: Getty Images)

If you are missing teeth or replacing an old crown she adds that this might “even serve as a viable option.” Just remember this is a permanent, irreversible decision. If you still want to foray into this popular option and are thinking about investing in a pair of temporary grills, then ensure you protect your teeth.

“Remove it and clean your teeth after every meal,” says Dr. Appolon. If you are not eating meals at home, bring a travel toothbrush and toothpaste to make sure you can keep up with your dental routine.

“Do not sleep with it,” Dr. Appolon states. Some individuals grind their teeth in their sleep and the grill can damage your natural teeth. You cannot forget your natural teeth when wearing grills or risk damage that could cost more than the sparkly dental ornament itself.

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