Modern Grills Make A Statement

Back in mid May, we over-viewed the ancient history of the grill, including how the Mayans used precious stones to decorate their teeth. Grillz, as they are sometimes called, social impacts continue to this day. Around 1980 marks the beginning of modern history, so let’s start there.

Before grills became fashion statements, it is believed they were used for health reasons. If you didn’t floss or brush well, you had to get a filling. These fillings were done with gold because it was a strong, durable metal that would protect the weakened tooth from further decay. Today there are alternate materials that are just as durable and keep teeth looking good as new.

It’s easy to make a connection between gold teeth and wealth. If you had enough money to get a gold filling, you were probably rich. As the link between gold, gold teeth and wealth became stronger, the trend became bigger.

American Musician Flavor Fav showing off his golden grill. Source:

Starting in the 1980s, gold teeth became a fashion trend. There’s no one true story about where and how grills started, but many link the origins back to a man name Eddie Plein who eventually opened a shop in Atlanta (and one in New York) called simply, Eddie’s Gold Teeth. Eddie Plein made some of the first grills for hip hop artists such as Slick Rick, Big Daddy Kane and Kool G Rap. After this first rise in grill popularity during the mid-1980s there was no stopping the rise in popularity of the grill. During the 1990s, Eddie Plein made a grill for Flavor Flav and made the style ubiquitous.

In the 2000s, grills became more prominent with the rise of southern hip hop and hip hop pop culture. A study done in 2006 found that most grill wearers were male, between the ages of 18 and 35 and hip hop listeners. But in the late 2000s, grills started to make the transition from underground culture to mainstream cultures. Grills transitioned from being worn only by hip hop musicians to other genres. During the late 2000s, grills were seen on band members from Avenged Sevenfold, Blink-182, Korn and even on Marilyn Manson.

By 2012, grills could even be seen on Olympic athletes. Though he was banned from wearing it on the medal stand, Ryan Lochte was able to take a lot of pictures holding his gold medal while wearing his American flag grill at the 2012 Olympics. Most recently, grills have graced the mouths of super celebrities such as Madonna, Miley Cyrus, Rihanna and Katy Perry.

If you’re interested in getting a grill and you want the best, check out Paul Wall, grill maker to the stars. Paul Wall is best known for starring in the 2005 video Grillz by Nelly. Paul Wall has made grills for Kanye West, Cam’ron and other big name musicians. You can check out his website here. Careful what you order, the price of a Paul Wall grill can be steep, up to $30,000.

Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte dons an American flag grill as he accepts the first USA gold medal in the 2012 Olympics. Source:

Though grills have moved from sub-culture to culture to pop culture, not all dentists are sure that they’re safe for teeth. Most grills are fitted to an individual’s teeth and are removable, but not all are. Dentists from the American Dental Association have voiced concerns that grills can limit oral hygiene and eventually cause tooth decay. If you are interested in trying this fashion trend, be sure to consult your dentist first and to always brush and floss as a part of your daily oral hygiene routine.

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