Grilling Into the History … of Grills

Teeth modifications are certainly nothing new.  And no, we’re not referring to Invisalign or even the traditional braces that most people endure in their earlier teenage years. Rather, we’re referring to grills (or grillz) — as well as what led up to their modern relevance.

Over the years, humanity has seen a variety of methods for dental adjustments and transformations, such as how the Mayans installed jade into their teeth, or how the Vikings stylistically carved their teeth into ridges.

But what about gold-related modifications, specifically? What led up to the modern grill as we know it?


Contrary to Popular Belief, It Did Not Start With the Egyptians

The recorded history of grills, or the use of gold and other gems as dental ornamentations, dates back thousands of years to the Etruscans. Etruscan civilization existed in modern-day Italy, later to be known as Tuscany, from approximately 800 B.C. to about 200 B.C. and is noted historically for its wealth and power.

Archaeological digs reveal the Etruscans to be the first known people to have inlaid their teeth with gold. Artifacts removed from such sites have unearthed teeth that were woven over with bands of gold, and researchers have clarified that rich Etruscan women, specifically, would remove their front teeth in order to have them replaced with gold appliances.

Sadly, the original tradition among the Etruscans faded after they were conquered by Rome.


Moving Toward Modern: A Momentary Resurgence

While many civilizations continued on with their own traditions for decorating their smiles, it was the Filipinos who notably carried the torch when it came to using gold after the end of Etruscan civilization. That being said, it did not happen until a considerable time later— approximately 1300 A.D., to be specific.

And this specific tradition was based on traditional mythology and folklore, rather than status.

Melu, the god said to have created the Bagobo people of the Philippines, was described as having gold teeth as a result of his cleanliness. And if God sets the trends, who are we mortals to dispute it?

Once again, though, this native dental tradition came to its end when the Spaniards conquered the Philippines.


Are We There Yet? — Modern Grills

As the trend of gold teeth rose and faded repeatedly over the course of several thousand years, the trend officially resurfaced in the 1980s as a result of the hip-hop industry’s tidal wave of popularity.

Among the notable artists who sported such bling, some may recognize Big Daddy Kane and Flava Flav, though other non-musical figures, like Mr. T, eventually hopped on the craze, contributing to the infamy of grills as a modern symbol of social status.

Presently, Kanye West, Rihanna, Lil Wayne, and more have sported either gold and/or diamond-encrusted teeth or, at the very least, gold inserts that have been fitted to the shape of their teeth.

And this time, grills may be here to stay.


But what about you? Are you interested in learning more about gold for grills, or are other traditional gold accessories more your style? In either case, Hemming Jewelers can help you along your gold journey. Simply contact us today by calling (904) 354-5959 to learn more!