Fashion doesn’t always make a lot of sense. Sometimes you can look back at a style that you were absolutely obsessed with, and wonder how on earth you managed to get away with wearing something so strange and hideous! In other cases, you can look back and wonder how on earth something stopped being fashionable, and why you stopped wearing it at all because you loved it so much. Other fashion trends are ones that you never tried out yourself, but you were fascinated with from afar, and wondered about how that sort of trend started in the first place. Gold teeth is one of those trends, one that not many people understand if they are not already within that sort of world. We’ve all seen people who have gold teeth in the hip hop world, but have you ever stopped to think about when it really started, and why?
If you want to understand hip hop, you have to understand the far forgotten roots of that sort of culture and history. It all goes back further than you could imagine, back to the Mayans who originally lived in parts of Central and South America. In their culture, one of the best ways for a person to show off about how rich and wealthy they were was to drill holes into their teeth, and then put pieces of jade in there. It meant that with absolutely every smile, no one was going to be in any doubt as to their financial worth. However, many believe it was a man called Eddie Plein that started off the more modern version of this trend in the 1980s. His company, Eddie’s Gold Teeth, made a mould of Flavor Flav’s teeth, and then created a gold mould that he called a grill that would fit over the rapper’s teeth, so that every time he smiled, he would be showing off just how wealthy they were.
This sort of fashion spread quickly, far more quickly than most people could have imagined. The movement of Eddie Plein’s business to Atlanta spread the craze even further, and soon it was more unusual not to have a grill than to have one. Not having one meant that you were automatically outside of the circle when it came to hip hop and rap artists, and so everyone had one – often in increasingly intricate designs, as different artists tried to create something that would set themselves apart from the rest of the industry. And unlike many other types of fashion, grills have not really gone out of fashion. They are more popular in some areas such as Houston and Memphis, but you should be able to find examples of grills and people who make grills out of gold pretty much all over America.
What no one thinks to ask is just how safe are these grills for people to wear? We spoke to Dr Paige Woods, a biological dentist & San Diego clinic owner, and she said that that this point there is not a huge amount of evidence one way or the other to prove whether or not wearing gold grills over long periods of time is dangerous. However, no study has proved that they are safe to wear either, and there are concerns within the dentist community that grills made of cheaper bae metals can cause allergic reactions. Some dentists have discovered that their patients have not been cleaning their grills properly, creating little havens for bacteria.
It’s hard to guess just how long the fashion for gold grills is going to last, but in the hip hop and rapping world, it does seem as though they are here to stay.