With every celebrity from Kylie Jenner and Kanye West and Madonna to Lady Gaga wearing grillz, people are once again getting crazy to get a set of the dental fashion accessory. Most people hail rapper Nelly as the one who took grillz to the mainstream. "We about to start an epidemic with this one," Jermaine Dupri introed in Nelly's 2005 hit song "Grillz," the St. Louis rapper's anthem in honor of gold and diamond filled teeth. Nelly's relevance might have faded over the recent years, but this Billboard Hot 100–topping does have a big impact for the hip-hop culture. The Grillz music video featured more than 70 close-up grill shots, introduced mainstream America to stylish dental ornamentation.
16 years have passed since "Grillz" first hit the airwaves, but Americans of all socioeconomic situations are still flashing the expensive dental accessory. Of course, MCs like Flatbush Zombies and A$AP Rocky have carried on the tradition of wearing and rapping about grillz. But the dental jewelry has also maneuvered their way over to the pop charts. In recent years we've seen them adorn the teeth of Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, and Beyoncé. The luxurious accessory appeared on the runways of New York and Paris Fashion Week as well.
Yet, as ever-present as grills may seem today, mouth jewelry isn't new. And it wasn't new when Nelly’s music video launched either. Grillz have been appearing, disappearing, and reappearing throughout human history. Anyone who's had an interest in the history of the grillz has probably seen Google search results that claim that the earliest gold dentures were made at ancient Egypt. People mistakenly think grillz started in ancient Egypt because archaeologists in the early 20th century found two teeth woven together by a gold wire that dated back to about 2,500 BC in Giza.
A civilization, Etruscans lived in Italy—eventually giving their name to the region of Tuscany—from around 800 BC to 200 BC. Archeologists found out that rich Etruscan women were the first people to wear what we would now call grillz. Researchers found three variations on the gold bonding technique used to incorporate rings of gold to Etruscan teeth. "It was never a dentist" who applied the gold, according to them. "It was always a goldsmith. It was done for adornment. You couldn't bite an apple with these," they added.
"Humans have something in common," says, an anthropologist Caroline said, "the desire to change their appearance—teeth included."
By the late 1970s grillz had started showing up in mostly black neighborhoods of New York City. By the mid-80s, rapper Slick Rick was wearing grills in his music videos. Big Daddy Kane and Kool G Rap also followed the trend. With hip-hop, grillz grew got a new concept - for the rich and famous. By the 1990s hip-hop era, Flava Flav would make grillz famous. Grillz became the visual aid to portray the exaggeration of hip-hop.
Today, grillz project the definition of social status and wealth. While modern celebrities and wealthy people can afford to invest their money away to protect it, they also feel the need to put their money on their teeth to remind themselves just how successful they are.
Author – Edward Cruz is a staff writer for VIPpromocodes.com, a website that provides the latest promotional codes, exclusive sales and offers for all of the top stores in the U.S.