Bling-bling don’t mean a thing if you don’t own a pair of grillz. Picture: Flickr

Hip-hop has injected its way into mainstream culture, from the cars to the clothes to the jewellery. It was only a matter of time till grillz found their way onto our teeth, literally speaking.

Also known as fronts or golds, a grill is a type of jewellery placed over the teeth. Worn by hip-hop artists in the early ’80s, it became popular in the mid-2000s and now it seems the trend is spreading like wildfire, in part due to Lil Wayne, Kanye West and Future sporting their bling-encrusted creations.

Status symbol

A sign of wealth and lavishness, even our own hip-hop artists are not immune to the status symbol. In 2016, AKA had a pair made by dentist to the stars, Lexleo “Dr Smile” Aliwal.

Made from 18 carat gold and sporting 10 vampire rubies, he posted an image of the elaborate gift on Instagram.

Nasty C went even further when he said during an interview on Metro FM that his grillz are worth R105 000 - making them the most expensive in the country.

Customise your own

Online store DentalJewels stocks a variety of instant grillz - reusable, removable, easy to fit, one-size-fits-all gold and rhodium-plated brass.

Be prepared to pay anything from R150 to R300.

Call it what you want. Unusual mouth art? Just plain foolishness? One thing it’s bound to do is get you noticed.

Grillz Lab is powered by Pro-Cosmetic Dental House.

You can even order a customised set of vampire grillz with cubic zirconias. But if it’s genuine bling you’re after, Grillz Lab take their craft seriously.

Their removable custom grillz start from R5000 upwards.

And don’t think you can arrive at their Joburg branch without prior notification - you need to book an appointment with their dental artist.

Wear with caution

There may be a cool factor associated with the grillz trend, but like with other dental jewellery, the risks outweigh the pros.

The experts at Colgate say the trend could affect the health of your teeth. Tooth decay and gingivitis are a few of the problems you might encounter. They suggest flossing and brushing with an anti-microbial toothpaste “as food and plaque can easily develop on the grill and can cause irritation”.

SA rapper AKA got a set of 18 carat gold grillz with ruby insets in 2016. Picture: Instagram

“Dental grills can also cause abrasion to adjoining teeth, gum recession, tooth discolouration or chipped teeth,” they warned.

That’s why it is important to always remove the grill before eating or rinsing to clean the mouth.

If you’re strongly considering a grill, remember that a dentist should make a dental grill by taking impressions of the teeth versus a jeweller or a grill vendor.

“An unlicensed dental professional could cause worse dental and oral health problems,” Colgate emphasised.