Mouth jewelry such as grills, jewels, tongue, and lip piercings have been rising in popularity recently, but are they safe for you and your teeth and gums? In this segment of Bloom, our very own Dr. Cindy Brayer and registered dental hygienist Tiffany Fager discuss common types of mouth jewelry and how they can impact the health of your teeth and gums.
Beyonce, Madonna, Miley Cyrus, Jay-Z, Kanye West…the list of celebrities who have “blinged out” their smiles with mouth jewelry keeps growing. Dr. Brayer and her team at Creating Smiles in Clearwater and St. Petersburg have noticed a similar trend in their patients as well.
“We’re seeing patients now starting to come in who either have some mouth jewelry, or they’re asking us to help them place on some mouth jewelry,” Dr. Brayer explains.
Removable vs. Fixed Mouth Jewelry
There are two different types of mouth jewelry – removable and fixed. Removable mouth jewelry can be taken out and put back in by the wearer whenever they wish. Fixed or permanent mouth jewelry, on the other hand, is bonded to the teeth and is not removable by the wearer.
The two photos below depict examples of removable mouth jewelry. In the first photo, the patient is wearing both upper and lower gold grills and in the second photo, the patient is wearing an open face lower gold grill. In both examples, the grills can be removed for easy cleaning. Removable grills also enable the wearer to maintain good oral hygiene by properly brushing and flossing regularly.
Image Credits: Instagram @mouthjewelry
We had recently had a patient come in who was experiencing problems with fixed mouth jewelry – in his case, a gold crown that had been cemented on. When the crown was placed, the margins weren’t good and so he wasn’t able to properly clean it, as you can see by the red, inflamed gums.
When we removed the crown, we found that the tooth underneath was completely decayed and the gum inflammation and redness was even more pronounced.
Another example of the problems that can be associated with fixed mouth jewelry is this 22-year-old patient of ours who had all of his front teeth crowned with gold crowns at a jewelry shop in Miami. When he came to us, he had a lot of cement stuck all around the margins of the crowns and his front teeth had begun to shift.
“We tell patients that they need to be really careful and make sure they understand what they are getting into with fixed mouth jewelry,” Dr. Brayer cautions.
Permanent grills, gold crowns, etc… should be placed by a dentist to ensure proper placement and fit and routine dental exams are recommended to make sure the teeth and gums are in good health.
Piercings and Teeth Jewels
We’ve talked about the concerns and possible complications with fixed mouth jewelry like gold crowns and grills, but what about teeth jewels and piercings?
According to Dr. Brayer:
“Other mouth jewelry, like jewels, where you’re seeing how patients are having these little diamonds placed on their teeth, those are fine as long as you go see a dentist, and have your dentist place them on your teeth.”
One of our dentists, Dr. Phane, recently placed teeth jewels on a patient. She was able to place them directly on top of his teeth as they were already healthy. He keeps both his teeth and the jewels clean and will have periodic checkups with Dr. Phane to make sure there are no problems. And if someday he decides he doesn’t like the jewels anymore, then we take them off and he’ll be back to his natural teeth.
Like the gold grills and the crowns, we are also seeing an increasing number of patients with piercings.
“I am seeing a lot of piercings but the ones that concern me are the lip or tongue [piercings] because they can rub through,” says hygienist Tiffany Fager.
She further explains how lip piercings can cause gum recession:
“Lip [piercings] can rub through and can actually cause recession. You can see the recession around the bottom teeth, right where the piercing was placed. [The piercing] really rubs through and can cause damage.”
Like lip piercings, tongue piercings can also damage teeth. Because they are metal, they can chip the teeth through repeated contact over time. Remembering the first time she encountered a patient with a tongue piercing, Tiffany recounts:
“I took the [patient’s] x-rays to the dentist and he held them up to the light and he put it back down and said, ‘Tongue ring?’ and I was like, ‘Yes, how did you know?’ He was about to retire, he was not trendy. He said, ‘Look, there’s chips on all of the teeth – little and big chips from accidentally biting and knocking into the line.’”
In addition to chipping, tongue piercings can also cause gum recession and can be hard to keep clean.
Can I Safely Wear Mouth Jewelry?
The best person to answer this question is your dentist. He or she can evaluate the health of your teeth and gums and ensure the proper placement and fit of your mouth jewelry, whether it be removable or fixed. Routine checkups with your dentist are also a good idea to make sure that your teeth and gums stay healthy.
Creating Smiles is one of Pinellas County’s leading providers of cosmetic and general dentistry services, including Invisalign, teeth whitening, dental implants, and oral cancer screenings. To schedule your in-office or virtual new patient consultation please call our St. Petersburg office (727-323-0377) or Clearwater office (727-791-8823).