(Photo by Tim Jaynes, Staff)
"I've sold them for years," said Terri Hurley, owner of Bo's Jewelry and Pawn Shop in Sikeston "These are a good seller and a really popular item all year long."
At her store, Hurley sells removable, 14-karat-gold caps. "It's just slips on and you can take them off," Hurley explained. Like large necklaces, earrings and other jewelry, the grills serve as an accessory and a way to mimic celebrities.
At her store, the caps often sell with gold studded earrings, also referred to as "nuggets," Hurley said. They come in shapes such as dice, initials, football helmets and bulldogs.
"They accessorize from similar items, just like buying a ring, earrings, necklace or bracelet" Hurley said of the buyers.
Permanent grills are also available in Sikeston, for those willing to spend more money. Dentists, such as Ted Lewis, D.M.D. at Sikeston Dental, will customize grills for patients. Lewis said he has noted an increase in the number of grills he has installed since the song became a hit.
Lewis, who describes himself as conservative, said he initially resisted working on grills for patients 20 years ago when he was in school at the University of Louisville. But he learned an important lesson from an instructor he calls a "super dentist" that influences his philosophy today: "A grill is a personal choice of aesthetics," he said. "As long as I'm using the best materials, those teeth are being restored the best way science knows how."
And he calls the materials he uses "the best of the best" -- gold and porcelain. Additionally, while a grill may be more outright and flashy, he finds no big difference between the flashy jewelry, or bling, and porcelain veneers one may request to make their teeth prettier and whiter -- each is a matter of personal choice.
Lewis said having a grill is "basically like having any other type of dental restoration -- it's high-tech restoration on a place where you decide to put it." Depending on the type of work done, the tooth may not even need to be numbed, he added.
At times, a patient can sit down and have the work done within three hours; other times, impressions will be made and he or she will need to return in a week to have the work completed. Depending on the number of teeth involved and materials used, the work can cost anywhere from $100 to several thousand dollars.
But for those wanting a temporary, less expensive bit of bling, Bo's carries caps in two sizes and several designs, but most people will only purchase one or two of the caps, at $15 each. "The sizes that I have are mainly for the front teeth," Hurley said.
Some of the caps are solid, and others have cuts outs "so you see the white of the tooth and it's sort of framed," Hurley said.
Lewis said he has done many different styles of grills, which customers usually have in mind for their initial consultation. At times, they will combine grills with veneers.
Grills from the dentist, if done right, will allow people to eat, brush their teeth, and use their teeth as they're accustomed. "Once it's done, you're as close to Mother Nature as possible even if it looks different," Lewis said.
Those that Bo's sells, since they aren't custom made, have more restrictions.
"We tell people not to eat with them because they can come off," Hurley said. She has heard several comical stories from customers, such as one man who broke his while eating fried chicken.
All sorts of people buy the bling, but teenage and twenty-something males are the most general buyers, Hurley said. But, adults occasionally buy them, too. Most use them strictly as a cosmetic -- which Hurley said the caps are identified as on her invoice sheets -- although some customers have used the caps as a temporary medical fix.
"When they break or chip a main tooth, they come to get one of those until they can get to the dentist," Hurley said. "Especially if they crack the two front teeth."
Lewis said most patients view grills as an accessory. "They want a more perfect smile, then they want an artistic twist to it that makes them individually stand out," he said. "When you're doing grills, that's pretty easy to do."