What TikTok Doesn't Tell You About Tooth Gems

Find out just how safe the alternative jewellery statements are.

Adwoa Aboah showcasing her Chanel logo tooth gem at the BRIT Awards in 2020
Getty Images/Dave J Hogan

There was a blissful time when we thought Euphoria-inspired glitter makeup was all we needed to add a little sparkle to our appearance. Now, people are stepping up their game by adding gem stones to their gnashers. From dainty Swarovski crystals to kitschy designer logos, the tooth gem trend is all about making a statement by smiling. #ToothGems has over 219 million views on TikTok and numerous celebrities including Adwoa Aboah, who rocked the look in 2020, and Bella Hadid have led the way with crystal-studded teeth.

The question remains: How safe is the tooth gem trend? We asked the experts just that. Find out everything you need to know, below.

What Are Tooth Gems?

“Tooth gems are basically bits of jewellery, whether precious or semi-precious, that you apply on the teeth ideally using a dental cement which has been proven to be safe,” says Dr. Sundeep Patel, a cosmetic dentist at Waldron Dental Clinic.

In many ways, tooth gems are the edgy successors of grills, which have a place in hip hop history. Today, instead of having a mouthful of gems, single jewels are applied to one or two teeth, sometimes in an abstract design.

How Are Tooth Gems Applied?

Many TikTok-ers have taken to using nail glue to stick the gems on their teeth, which can lead to the inhalation of toxic ingredients. Only tooth-specific glue that can be ingested safely should be used for these crystals. Therefore, it is advisable that you visit a professional to have this work done.

First, a dentist or tooth gem technician will study your bite, to understand which teeth the jewels can be applied on safely. Then they will put a dental cement or adhesive onto the enamel, before carefully applying the gem of your choice.

Similarly, it is essential to only use jewels that are specifically designed for the teeth. As tooth gem technician @biggie.eillish explains on TikTok, “Nail gems might be Swarovksi, but they aren’t Swarovski advanced lead-free gems, so you could get slow release lead poisoning and you won’t know until your body’s really sick.”

As for how much it will cost, prices tend to vary per establishment. Many dental practices have you enquire directly to find out the price, as opposed to advertising a set sum.

Are Tooth Gems Safe?

According to Dr. Patel, semi-permanent tooth gems that do not require any drilling and cause little-to-no harm to your enamel are fine. He asks that people avoid using the permanent alternatives. “Often what tends to happen is people want a gem, then they remove the gem which can leave a hole in the enamel which then needs a filling, it’s effectively like having a filling on your tooth for nothing other than cosmetic reasons,” he explains.

Moreover, Dr. Patel emphasises that the gems must be applied on teeth that you aren’t biting on, as the jewels can often be abrasive.

London-based tooth gem technician Anyamanee Chailom has been applying jewels since 2019, and believes they are harmless as long as people use the right adhesive and avoid nail gems. “When the gem is removed, often some glue stays on the tooth. This is not harmful, but can be visible. You should always get this removed by your dentist and not try to peel it off on your own, as it could weaken the enamel,” she explains.

Advise On After-Care

Brushing your teeth twice a day with a soft bristle brush is a great way to ensure your tooth gems and gums are safe and clean. Usually semi-permanent tooth gems last between 2-6 months, but to increase their longevity, a healthy diet is most important. “You must avoid unhealthy food like candy, soda or alcohol that could weaken the adhesive,” says Chailom.

The bottom line? Don’t take TikTok word for word, consult a professional, and be sure to put your health and safety first.