U.S. Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte made a dental fashion statement by wearing diamond-encrusted grill in his mouth after winning a gold medal. His grill was designed to look like the American flag, using diamonds and precious metals. It was reported a Houston jeweler, Johnny Dang, made the grill at a cost of $25,000.
How is the grill made to fit over the teeth and stay in place without damaging the teeth? Is it possible to make it out of less expensive material and lower the cost?
Oral jewelry first worn by rappers more than a decade ago as a statement that they are wealthy and can afford to adorn their mouths with expensive jewels. Grills are generally removable, designed to snap over the teeth. Today they have become a fashion statement, or, as in the case of Lochte, a means to show his personality. The original grills were custom-fabricated from expensive metals like gold and platinum and adorned with diamonds or other precious stones.
Most state laws are similar to Pennsylvania’s in stating that only a licensed dentist can fit, construct and insert any artificial appliance for the human teeth or jaws. Unlike the $25,000 grill made for Lochte, it is possible to purchase a one-size-fits-all grill, fitted with artificial jewels, at some shopping malls or on the Internet. Dentists throughout the country have reported seeing teenagers with extensive areas of tooth decay or gum disease from wearing a poorly fitting grill purchased from a local jewelry booth at a mall.
Any oral appliance that fits against the teeth or gums has the potential to harbor bacteria, move teeth and cause jaw pain. To avoid problems, fabrication of a cosmetic grill must follow the same guidelines used to fabricate dental prosthetic appliances.
A skilled dental lab technician, possibly working in conjunction with a jewelry maker, should make the grill using an impression taken by a dentist. Since most dental labs are trained to make artificial teeth, they understand dental principles required to prevent tooth damage.
Snapping in a well-fit grill for short periods of time should not harm the teeth. That is just my opinion, because there are no controlled studies that indicate properly fabricated grillz are either harmful or safe.
If you are considering a dental grill, you first should talk to your dentist.