At the 2017 Met Gala, Hailey Baldwin flashed a cocky smile to reveal two sparkling gems affixed to her teeth. A picture of the moment promptly garnered over 400,000 “likes” and launched a series of conjectures about tooth gems being the next big cosmetic trend. Just a few months before, Katy Perry sported a tiny gold gem in the shape of the Nike logo. As these things go, tooth gems are not new. In fact, they’re ancient.
According to National Geographic, inhabitants of ancient Mesoamerica accessorized their teeth with semiprecious gems. A centuries-old skull found in Chiapas, Mexico, even had teeth gems worn in a manner not unlike our own contemporary version.
Centuries later, tooth gems resurfaced with the popularization of grills in the hip-hop scene of the 1980s. Grills maintained their popularity well into the new millennium thanks in part to the 2005 Nelly song “Grillz.”
Recently, many celebrities and fashion influencers have gotten their gems implanted by Tooth Kandy, a Los Angeles-based shop. According to the Tooth Kandy website, gems typically last anywhere from six months to two years depending on the type of gem used. Gems are attached to the enamel using a semipermanent adhesive. Dentists have, however, expressed their concerns for how gems might affect the enamel.
Ahead, see how people are wearing the trend in its latest iteration.