Tooth Gems Are Having a Moment — Again

Here's what to know before getting one.

What You Need to Know Before Getting Tooth Gems
Photo: Getty Images, haileybieber/Instagram

We're always game to add a little more sparkle to our lives. Adding rhinestones to our hair? We're into it. Euphoria-inspired glitter eye makeup? Immediately, yes. Attaching gemstones to our teeth? Well, this is where we start to get a little skeptical.

Nonetheless, tooth gems are 2022's latest way to add some shimmer and shine into your beauty routine. According to this year's Pinterest Predicts trends report, physically attaching gems and rhinestones onto your teeth will be one of this year's biggest beauty trends.

The look itself, however, isn't exactly new. We can't help but think of tooth gems as the offspring of grills, which were predominately popularized by Black hip-hop artists and rappers in the '90s. Instead of a full mouthful of diamonds and jewels, though, now we're seeing the gems applied to one or two teeth as an accent piece.

From dainty silver studs to elaborate multi-colored rhinestones in the shape of hearts, crosses, and even designer logos, these bejeweled accents will make quite the statement in our smiles. We're even seeing celebrities embrace the trend with their own styles of teeth jewelry.

And while we're all about trying new things, naturally we have a few questions about this trend, like, is it safe? How do you maintain and clean tooth gems? And how long do they last? So, before we take a bite out of this trend (sorry, not sorry), we tapped two experts to get all the deets on tooth gems.

How Are Tooth Gems Applied?

If you're wondering how the heck do you get tooth gems attached to your teeth in the first place, it's very similar to applying braces, says Shannon Nanne, a dental hygenist and manager of professional relations and education for Curaden US. Rest assured, no drilling is required.

According to Dr. Wesam Shafee, one of the country's top dentists with a focus on aesthetic dentistry, tooth gems are usually bonded on a tooth surface by a dentist after etching the tooth with an etchant (a type of acid) to increase retention of the gem to the tooth's surface. "The length of time a gem lasts can vary from a few months to a few years, mainly depending on the bonding technique of the dentist," he says.

"There are many kits available online to do this yourself, but I strongly recommend you ask your dentist to apply this for you," says Nanne.

How Do I Get Rid of My Tooth Gem?

You can remove a tooth gem once you're ready to try something new or get rid of it altogether. Nanne says sometimes it falls off on its own, but she recommends going to a dentist for proper removal so there's no adhesive residue left on the tooth, which can cause a rough feel or sometimes even irritation inside the mouth.

Dr. Shafee says the removal process is done via specialized instruments to dislodge the gem, then the surface of the tooth is smoothed down to remove excess material used to bond the gem.

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How Much Does It Cost to Get a Tooth Gem?

There are two separate costs to consider before getting a tooth gem — the actual cost of the gem and then the application cost.

"Usually, the in-office charge for applying the gem is about $200," says Dr. Shafee. Prices for the gem itself can range anywhere from $30 to $200, depending on the material of the jewel. For instance, a diamond or real gold will cost you more than a crystal.

Are Tooth Gems Safe?

"In general, tooth gems are not recommended by most dentists as there is a chance they may dislodge and be swallowed or aspirated into the airway," says Dr. Shafee. Additionally, they can trap food and bacteria, which raises concerns about tooth decay.

That said, Nanne insists that as long as you're properly caring for your teeth, there shouldn't be any concerns.

How Do You Care for Tooth Gems?

"It is important that the gem is cleaned extremely well because when plaque forms around the gem a cavity can occur," says Nanne.

Dr. Shafee recommends thoroughly brushing your teeth twice a day with a soft bristle brush so that it can get in those hard-to-reach areas around the tooth gem and hopefully remove any food that may be stuck.

"I recommend using a Curaprox 12460 Velvet toothbrush ($9, curapox.us) around your gem," says Nanne. "The 12,460 filaments are sensationally gentle on your enamel and are the softest toothbrush that removes plaque gently yet effective."

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