In today’s hip hop and celebrity culture, dental grills are a popular way to add more bling to your smile. You’ve seen them on everyone from rapper OutKast to Olympic gold medalist Ryan Lochte, and increasingly on adults and teenagers due to the popularity with celebrities and for those wanting to make a fashion statement, but are glitzy grills really safe for your teeth?
Made of metal and sometimes encrusted with jewels, grills are removable cosmetic tooth coverings that rest on the front teeth. They can be made with silver, gold or other metals and can cost thousands of dollars depending on their design.
The American Dental Association has not studied the long-term effects of wearing grills. If the grills fit correctly and are not worn all the time, they may present a low risk for developing dental problems. The ADA does, however, warn that grills can cause allergic reactions or irritation. Wearing a grill on a long-term basis can trap bacteria, leading to bone loss, cavities or gum disease. Serious misalignment issues may also result from an improperly fitted grill.
The blinged-out dental hardware can also promote plaque buildup and tooth decay and even cause abrasion of the bordering teeth. Fans of grills may even have to whiten their teeth because excessive wear can cause discoloration.
If you choose to wear a grill, pay special attention to your dental hygiene. Follow a regular routine that includes flossing and twice-daily tooth brushing. The grill should always be removed before eating and cleaned often to eliminate food particles and bacteria. Before getting a grill, talk to your dentist about the best ways to clean it and prevent complications.
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