Human beings have been interested in their appearance for thousands of years. Decorating their bodies with tattoos, piercing ears and other parts of body but also decorating their teeth. Already 2500 years ago were the Native Americans making their teeth stand out with gems. This is a phenomenon that has lasted ever since.
Tooth Jewels – Any Harm?
Well in the mid-nineties I had my first tooth jewel. I was a dental student when the tiny golden figures for the teeth came in fashion. Heart, star, droplet were the figures to choose from. I chose a heart and it was attached to my upper right incisor with a bonding adhesive they use to bond the filling.
For a very long time I was happy with it but then I saw other people who had similar jewellery on their teeth. I thought it looked like people had something stuck on their teeth that needed to be scraped off with a finger nail. It didn’t look like you had golden figure on your tooth and the shape was only visibly in very close distance. I did not want people to think I had food stuck on my teeth – after all I was working as a dental professional already.
But then! I saw somebody having a diamond on his tooth and I was sold there and then. It wasn’t a diamond inserted on a golden figure or a diamond glued on the surface of the tooth. It was a diamond that was planted inside the tooth – to the level of the surface of the enamel.
So I went to a jewellery shop and asked for a small diamond. I asked my colleague to attach it to my canine tooth. He used a diamond bur which had the tip shaped like a cone – similar to the shape of the bottom of the diamond. The dentist drilled a small hole on the enamel with the tip of the bur. The hole was just slightly larger than the diamond’s size. Then he prepared the hole the same way as he would do when making a filling – back then it was first the blue etching gel, then the primer and then the bonding adhesive (nowadays the primer is normally self-etching). Then he took a small piece of a blu-tack and took hold of it with the forceps. He attached the top of the diamond to the blu-tack. Like this
I know what you are thinking.
Blu-tack!? What the… it’s not something we use in dentistry…
Let me tell you that this dentist was very inventive and clever. He had found a way to keep hold of the difficult shape of the diamond. The last thing you would need is to see the patient’s precious piece of rock flying past your eyes and on to the floor where you, the nurse and probably the patient would be spending the rest of the appointment bottoms up.
Anyway, the dentist placed a small amount of composite filling to the bottom of the cavity he had just made and inserted the diamond to it’s place. Then he light cured it (for non-professionals this means the special light will harden the filling material).
So Is There? Harm I Mean?
It was in 1997 when the diamond was attached to my tooth and yes, it is still there! Some people notice it, some don’t. Often I forget it is there until someone mentions it. I have never regretted I let the dentist drill my intact tooth to insert a diamond.
So to the question on the title – is there any harm in having jewels attached to your teeth.
The ones that are attached to the surface of the tooth
- are not harmful in any other way than if you’ve chosen a jewel that looks like you have lettuce from your lunch stuck on your teeth. The reason why people are staring at your teeth is not because of your sparkling smile. They are simply going through a silent debate whether or not to tell that you have something stuck on your teeth. Normally they decide not to (this is something I would like people to have more courage at. You should always tell if someone has food stuck on their teeth – we all know how it feels like when you come home after work and look in the mirror and see the parsley between the front teeth…)
- can be removed without any sign on the tooth you ever had one
The ones that have required tooth material to be filed or drilled away
- will require a filling or similar to replace the jewellery if you decide to remove it. And it means the tooth is never the same as when it was intact
- are best to be attached to the teeth that already have filling/s. Do not follow my example!
But there are also removable tooth jewellery as well. Read further to find out.
You Sure You Want to Look Like a Rapper?
If you plan to have large tooth jewel that requires extensive preparations on teeth, remember that
- you might look like a rapper/jail bird – do you have a habitus to go hand in hand with your new looks of the teeth?
- some employers dislike visible jewellery and it can be the one single reason not to choose you for the job
- some of the extensive jewellery like grills look like you have an orthodontic appliance attached to your teeth, which I’m sure is not the intention
About grills. They can pose a risk to your occlusion and cause decay, abrasion (type of tooth wear, see my post about them) and gum problems. It is advisable to wear removable grill only when absolutely necessary. Do not try to glue it to your teeth if it is meant to be removable.
Here’s further reading on the subject (honestly, what was Madonna thinking?).
- extensive preparations mean that you will need extensive restorations if you decide to remove the jewellery from your teeth
The most important thing is to consult your dentist before you do any extensive alterations on your teeth. It should always be a dental professional who attaches the jewellery on your teeth.