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Even throughout a pandemic mandating masks, dental grill designers saw business boom. Typically worn by men, the U.S. market has shifted as more and more women opt for this dental jewelry. These female customers — including celebrities Rihanna, Issa Rae, and Kim Kardashian — have even begun shifting the type of work done, personalizing beyond the typical gold or diamonds with varying colors, cuts, and more.
The scene is slightly different in Guatemala, where jade grills have been common since they adorned Mayan royalty centuries ago. By the 1990s, new generations started wearing gold grills as a symbol of power and money following the end of the Guatemalan War. As one local photographer found, grills in the country have become a symbol of wealth, all happening with the backdrop of a developing middle class and less interest in moving to the U.S..
Problem is, gold is not grown in impressive amounts in the country. Rising prices for the limited supply only made matters worse. So instead, many people use metal alloys from China, which worries professionals who cite a rise in esophageal, stomach, and intestinal cancers. A similar problem existed in the U.K. back in 2011, resulting in criminal investigations into dentists that defrauded patients with fake gold implants, putting them at risk of dental diseases.
But fake or real, experts in the U.S. have been warning of the dangers of grills for years, which can not only wear away at a tooth’s enamel but, if badly fitted, can permanently move teeth into a new and unhealthy position. While celebrities have the resources to maintain these products, those following in their footsteps may not.
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To see these dental grills for yourself, consider this visual sampling from Guatemalan photographer Juan Brenner.
- Vice (Where we found this story) 1 month old | 4 minutes long
- HIGHSNOBIETY U.S. grill business boom 3 weeks old | 11 minutes long
- Financial Times Rising gold prices threaten grill supply in Guatemala 13 years old | 9 minutes long
- Elle Women turning grills into a fine art 7 weeks old | 9 minutes long
- The Independent Fake gold grills in the U.K. 10 years old | 5 minutes long
- DailyMail Dental threat of real grills 8 years old | 5 minutes long
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Get out of my grillz! You're nothing but fake (gold)!
Art Credit: Below the Fold