Many people use tooth gems to beautify their teeth. They use them as a way to make their smile more attractive. Some use it to cover up the spaces where they have lost teeth.
But are you willing to risk the consequences of wrong use?
It's important that you know what will and won't harm your teeth before use. Obtaining knowledge will help you avoid teeth problems in the future.
This post will cover some of the effects and precautions of using tooth gems. It'll also cover common questions on the impact tooth gems make on your oral health.
What are Tooth Gems?
Tooth gems are a type of jewelry for teeth designed to stay in the mouth. As its name suggests, it's often intended for use on teeth. Sometimes, they cover up spaces where teeth have been lost due to injury or tooth decay.
Tooth gems can be glued onto the surface of the teeth, placed inside the tooth, or between the teeth. The choice depends on personal preference.
A tooth gem kit provides many different shapes and sizes. People can use them in a way that suits their situation best.
Most Dental Offices Say No
The use of tooth gems is not common in dental offices. In fact, we don't do tooth gems in our office, and here's why. There are no studies proving their safety and effectiveness for long-term use.
Many dentists agree that the use of these jewels can lead to problems with oral health. Most dental offices do not use tooth gems. This is due to the inability of the materials to be sterilized, like metals or acrylics.
Teeth are very sensitive to changes in temperature, pressure, and use. These factors can cause problems with the teeth like cavities or mouth sores.
Other issues mount like when a patient changes their style and wants the tooth gems removed. The removal often leaves a permanent discoloration on the tooth.
It's important for people who use tooth gems to take care of their oral health. Brushing twice a day and flossing regularly are the least steps required with tooth gems.
Do Tooth Gems Harm Teeth?
In the short term, using tooth gems can cause a temporary change in dental health and hygiene. This is because food particles or plaque will get stuck in the gaps between each gem on your teeth. It's also common to feel like you have something caught in your mouth when eating or drinking fluids.
As long as the use of tooth gems is limited to a short period, these side effects will go away. The story changes when considering long-term care.
The use of tooth gems for a prolonged period may cause permanent damage to your teeth. These gemstones can chip or leave scratches on the enamel.
Also, their small size makes it hard to clean around them. This makes the tooth more susceptible to cavities and gum disease.
How Tooth Gems Work
There are three types of tooth gems. One goes between teeth, one is glued to a tooth, and the other is set into the tooth. The latter alters the tooth.
The gems that go between teeth must have no gaps. Placing the gem involves inserting the jewelry between two teeth and opening them.
When done well, placement should be such that there are no gaps or spaces. If there are gaps, they could make it possible for food to get stuck.
The tooth gems that get glued in place are good for about six months. Depending on the adhesive, some can last 12-months.
There are also temporary tooth gems that get glued in place and last 3-8 weeks. The manufacturers suggest that they are not toxic and 100% safe when placed by a "professional." You'll learn more about who the tooth gems technicians are later in this article.
Today's glues are superior to earlier ones that required a slight etching of the tooth to adhere. This prevents the enamel from spoiling too soon. It also allows the process to be reversible when fashions change. The lifespan for a glued tooth gem is often six months, depending on the type of adhesive used.
The biggest risk is still the wearing away of the tooth's enamel. This leads to tooth decay and potential infection.
Oral piercings have been around a bit longer than today's temporary gems.
Piercings can be done on teeth, tongue, or frenulum. The frenulum is that thin tissue that connects your upper lip to the top of your gums, above your front teeth.
There are also gum piercings, but they need drilling.
The biggest downfall to these types of gems is their potential breakage. Small pieces can be accidentally digested or even breathed into the lungs. Other problems may include allergic reactions and tooth sensitivity.
The odds of having issues increase with piercings.
Gold Teeth and Grillz
Gold has been used for decades because it doesn't cause allergies. It is also pliable and supple. But, to keep the costs down, these items are not pure gold.
This leads to faster wear and tear of the tooth enamel.
Most documented issues include lip swelling and its associated pain. Many times there is gum swelling and redness. But the biggest issue is an oral lichenoid reaction under the soft tissue.
Grillz are made of non-precious metals and cause allergic reactions. They are big enough to collect debris. This leads to bacteria collecting and producing acids that eat away at the enamel.
The Risk of Wearing Tooth Gems
Using dental jewelry may cause damage to teeth. You need to be careful when you are deciding. It is important that you make sure the image of your teeth is worth the risk.
This is due to the high probability that you'll run into some form of health concern.
Here are the common concerns often noted:
- Dental jewelry on your teeth can trap food particles and dirt.
- When there are small spaces between teeth and jewelry, bacteria will grow. It causes bad breath and infections.
- When something new is placed inside the mouth, our bodies adapt. In the case of dental jewelry, the mouth's response might not be what you can live with.
- Jewels in the mouth can make your muscles tired.
- Neck pain or headaches can result from problems with jaw muscles. The temporomandibular joint when inflamed by the jewelry can also generate pain.
- Pieces covering the entire tooth cause several problems. The most common is that the jewel ends up pressing against a gum with enough force to damage it. Neglected precautions can heighten or compound the problem.
The above can cause inflammation, redness, and accumulation of bacterial plaque. Neither of these circumstances is favorable for the health of your mouth. You are the one to decide if taking all that risk is worth participating in a passing trend.
Is the Process Painful?
Many people think that getting cosmetic dentistry is going to be painful. But it's not. Getting tooth gems is painless. You don't need to get shots or surgery because the process of putting a gem on your tooth is simple and doesn't hurt.
The process itself takes about 20-minutes. The actual application of tooth gems is painless—no need for numbing.
The process includes:
- Taking photos for positioning and ascetics
- Printing out an image of your teeth with fillings or gaps in them
- Deciding which type you want (e.g., white pearls)
- Looking at different angles to find the perfect fit for your mouth's shape
- Using an adhesive or bonding agent to attach the gemstone
The issue of using a tooth gem is not associated with the installation. The real question is about hygiene and the things that can go wrong.
When someone swallows a gem, there is a chance it can pass through the system without causing harm. Common problems may include tearing the stomach lining or intestine.
Larger gems trying to pass through the system tend to have worse results. They can get stuck in the intestines or lodged in the stomach. In these cases, surgery is necessary to remove them.
We recommend that parents think twice about allowing their kids to get tooth gems. The recipient should be mature enough to take responsibility for their proper hygiene.
It's never a good idea to use gems with toddlers who may swallow them or have a gem come loose from a tooth necklace.
Changes in Bite or Chewing
There are some concerns that the use of tooth gems can change a person's bite. Or, that a gem increases the risk of orthodontic problems later in life. There are not enough studies yet to determine the results of this fashion fad.
A lot of people think that getting a jewel on their teeth will make it hard to chew food. But this is not true.
You may indeed feel like there’s something new in your mouth for a few days. But then you'll get used to it and there won’t be any trouble unless something goes wrong.
Does the Jewel Affect Brushing?
The gem introduces a new point of failure in your mouth. The odds increase for having bacteria grow where the tooth and tooth gem meet. This requires careful brushing.
To avoid bacteria growth, the debris from the gem and teeth must be cleaned after each meal and a night's sleep.
There is a word of caution for newly mounted gems. Until the adhesive is fully cured, you'll want to use a light touch with your brushing.
It is also recommended you avoid using an electric toothbrush for the first two weeks. Otherwise, the added pressure of an electric toothbrush may displace the gem.
Are Tooth Gem Technicians Certified?
There are no certifications needed to apply tooth gems. Nor are there any state or medical board requirements. There are no laws or compliance rules for the health of the patient during the application.
There is a training course that a tooth gem technician may choose to take. The course helps them understand certain techniques, tools, and adhesives. The technicians should be able to apply tooth gems in a safe and successful manner.
Many of the tooth gem technicians are tattoo artists. They picked up the trade when those requesting other piercings made multiple requests. In other words, those technicians are artists with no medical background.
Your Personal Choice
The use of tooth gems for the teeth is not something we do in our office. There are other options out there that do not cause harm to the teeth. Some use magnets, others use a type of filling that is similar to most other fillings.
Wearing tooth gems is a personal decision that requires knowing what does not affect your teeth. It is also a decision about what types of risk you're willing to take.
When you're in need of removing a tooth gem, some make their first attempt using dental suction. You're familiar with a dental device that removes saliva and fluids.
If that approach doesn't work, there are a few other possibilities. The last option is surgery.
Once removed, reconstruction of the tooth may be a part of the process. This may be more intricate than normal if the gem had caused any cracking or infection in the tooth and gums.
Can You Use Tooth Gems Without Harming Your Teeth?
The question, "Can your use tooth gems without harming your teeth," has been answered. The odds are not in your favor.
Consider what dentists have to say about it. Most dentists refuse to use tooth gems because they can lead to problems with oral health.
Tooth gems can be damaging to your teeth. Some people worry that tooth gems change their bite. But there are not enough studies on the topic. But it does introduce bacteria to the teeth, increasing the risk of dental problems.
Feel free to contact us for more information or a private consultation on the matter.
Also, if you have a young person in your family pushing for it, set up an oral hygiene process that they have to adhere to. Have them prove their maturity of keeping their mouth in good order for six months.