The bedazzling trend from the ‘90s and early 2000s made everything shine–and the obsession with sparkle never really left. In addition, tooth gems–in the form of diamonds, crystals, or rhinestones being bonded to a tooth–have been a glittering detail on the smiles of many celebrities throughout the years, and now, teeth jewellery is cropping up on TikTok and Instagram.
Known as the cosmo-dentist, Dr Gul Owais is one of the leading professionals making killer gem-embellished smiles. The Karachi-based dentist decorates teeth with petite gems and crystals to highlight a dazzling grin.
The history of tooth jewel
Before high-profile models sported a crystal-detailed Chanel tooth charm–hopped on the trend, teeth accessories adorned grins dating back to ancient times, from 800 BC. The Etruscans, who existed in what is now Italy, were known to weave their teeth with bands of gold wire. Then, from 300 AD to 900 AD, Mayan royals drilled holes into their teeth and filled them with gold and semiprecious jewels, like jade and turquoise. While teeth ornaments beautified appearances, they could also hold deeper significance. For the Mayans, the custom was believed to ensure prosperity. Meanwhile, in the early Philippines and China, gold grills followed ancient mythology and divinity, connecting dental accessories with spiritual meaning and purpose.
Tooth gems: More than a trend
In more recent history, teeth gems have become embedded in American pop culture, specifically in hip-hop. While tooth gems offer a more subtle shine, the eye-catching detail will always be symbolic of the hip hop culture it was born from.
Here, Dr Gul is Director and Senior Dental Consultant at F&G Cosmodental Clinic, tells us more about the origins of teeth gems, what you can expect when you get one applied, and why you shouldn’t copy the TikTokers trying it at home.
Dental Tribune Pakistan: You’ve been applying tooth gems to celebrity clients for years now. Why do you think they’re coming back in style, or did they ever leave?
Dr Gul Owais: Tooth gems have remained on a fashion high for quite a few years, becoming especially popular the past year. Although it is less seen in Pakistan, the trend never left; it is still quite famous in the United States.
Dental Tribune Pakistan: What should people know about the origins of the tooth gem trend before trying it for themselves?
Dr Gul Owais: Tooth gems are sparkly and look attractive and may appeal to certain strata of the society. However, it should be carefully considered beforehand since even the slightest neglect in dental care may result in caries and loss of tooth structure and gum disease.
Dental Tribune Pakistan: What is the procedure for getting a tooth gem?
Dr Gul Owais: The procedure is simple. The tooth is etched and then washed and dried. The bonding agent is then applied to the tooth surface and allowed to cure. Then a small amount of composite resin is used to allow sticking of the gem onto the tooth structure.
The gem’s position is shown to the patient on a mirror, and if they’re satisfied, it is cured and set.
Dental Tribune Pakistan: How long does tooth jewel last?
Dr Gul Owais: Tooth gems can last anywhere from 4-6 months typically.
Dental Tribune Pakistan: How do you make each application unique to each customer?
Dr Gul Owais: We make each application unique by letting patients choose the stone they want and their position. We do offer esthetic advice in that regard. We also try to offer as many jewels as we possibly can for greater variety.
Dental Tribune Pakistan: Have you noticed a certain demographic of customers asking for tooth jewel?
Dr Gul Owais: People in the age group 16- 28 are seen most often flocking at dental clinics to get this kind of treatment. Perhaps it is a coming-to-age kind of thing.
Dental Tribune Pakistan: What do you think about the tooth gems becoming a popular DIY trend on the TikTok app? Is at-home application safe?
Dr Gul Owais: At home, tooth gem kits are safe, but it is always better to let a professional handle sensitive work like this.