A Mouthful of Bling PDF Print E-mail
By Darin Edgecomb - Black College Wire   

"Smile for me, Daddy . . . let me see your grill," says the chorus on Nelly's No.1 hit "Grillz."

Ever since "Grillz" hit the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in 2005, many people, young and old, have been buying gold, silver or platinum covers that snap over their teeth. For some, dental grillz are still a must-have.

Video for Nelly's "Grillz" helped popularize mouth bling.

Why would people walk around with metal in their mouths?

Tyrone Harris, a master barber at Dent's barber shop in Albany, Ga., said he always wanted a grill.

"It was an enhancer of my looks," Harris said.

Several people in Albany have bought grillz from Jewelry Land, a store at the front entrance of the Albany Mall.

"We get so many orders, I can't even give you a number," said Jasmine Brannon, the assistant manager.

Brannon outlined steps that must be followed to ensure an almost-perfect grill:

An impression made from a salt called alginate is mixed with two ounces of water, and the stirred substance is poured into a mouthpiece, which is placed in a person's mouth. After two minutes, the mouthpiece comes out, and if done correctly, a mold of the person's teeth results. Cement is poured into the impression to make sure the grill stays in place.

There are different price ranges for grillz at Jewelry Land.

A four-toothed gold grill is $149, a six-toothed one costs $199, and an eight-toothed, $249.

Grillz have become so popular that a person can get whatever design he or she wants.

"Some people want the American flag, their names, diamonds, and the list goes on," said Brannon.

Grillz, which started predominantly as a male item, have become so popular that women are wearing them, too.

Courtni Johnson, a grill wearer for two years, said there is nothing wrong with a woman wearing a grill.

"I just have a bottom grill, which is, in my opinion, less masculine than having a top and a bottom grill," she said.

Deon Alston, a business management major at Albany State University, said, "I have dated a female who wore a grill, because it really doesn't matter to me."

Other students disapprove.

"I wouldn't date a female with a grill because I feel that wearing a grill is unlady-like," said Clamenta Bell, a sophomore at Albany State.

Paul Larkin, an Atlanta native, said, "Grillz are degrading to my race as well as those who wear them."

According to the American Dental Association, people who wear grillz should be especially careful about brushing and flossing. Food and other debris can be caught between the teeth and grill, allowing bacteria to collect.

The acids the bacteria produce can cause tooth decay and harm gums. In addition, the grill can become a breeding ground for bacteria and cause bad breath.

"At present there are no studies that show that grills are harmful to the mouth — but there are no studies that show that their long-term wear is safe, either. Some grills are made from non-precious (base) metals that may cause irritation or metal-allergic reactions," the association said.

Ebonie Ward, a senior mass communications major, said she was indifferent about men wearing grillz.

"I don't stereotype, because I mostly let personality define a person, so if he has a grill and is respectful, then that's fine."

Whatever your preference, get used to seeing grillz. From the looks of things, they could be around for a long time.

Darin Edgecomb, a student at Albany State University, writes for the Student Voice. To comment, e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Posted Feb. 19, 2007

Posted Feb. 18, 2007
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