Skip to comments.Diverse group seeks mouthful of gold
Posted on 09/06/2004 11:01:08 AM PDT by Sweet_Sunflower29
D.J., a hulking 25-year-old Chicago construction worker, has six new gold teeth in his mouth. No, make that eight teeth --- six gold and two platinum ones. Cost: $1,300.
In hip hop parlance, they are called "grills" and "fronts" --- a fashion statement and a state of mind where the more the merrier and the gaudier the better.
From Birmingham, Ala., to the Bay Area in California, multiple gold teeth are popping up in the nation's mouths --- to the delight of some, the dismay of others and the confusion of many.
Once the province of moneyed rappers like Master P and Nelly, metallic mouths have evolved into a multi-million dollar industry that stretches across the nation from dentists' offices to shopping malls to flea markets to the Internet.
In Montclair, Calif., Dr. Ron Cunning, 71, a graduate of St. Louis University's Dental School and the so-called "Hip Hop Dentist" to the stars, puts in gold and diamonds for rappers and singers like Snoop Dogg and Monica and other high-paying clients, starting at $1,000 a tooth. A full set has run as high as $30,000.
While in some parts of the country the trend is predominately among blacks, in other regions, like California, wearers of gold teeth come in many colors.
In the Midwest, the trend thrives in St. Louis. And at the heart of the business is Coleman Dental Services Inc., a nondescript St. Louis dental practice that has been a mainstay for more than 100 years. Over time, Coleman Dental's reputation has spread to the point where people from throughout the region and even across the country come to have their natural teeth, and sometimes even their dentures, encapsulated in gold.
The majority of the firm's gold tooth business is from out of town, said Dr. Richard Snitzer, who owns the Coleman firm.
Meanwhile, in certain malls, small shops and flea markets nationwide, sales people hawk specially manufactured "removable" gold teeth to a growing market. At Northwest Plaza in north St. Louis County and Frison Flea Market in north St. Louis, venders roll out glossy paper displays featuring photographs of dozens of gold and platinum teeth designs.
There are open-faced golds, golds with initials in them, golds with fancy engravings, golds with diamond cuts, diamond encrusted golds, vampire teeth golds, golds that say "I love you," golds with naked women, marijuana leaves, Playboy bunnies and Gucci and Mercedes Benz logos.
"I find that the reason they are doing it is because they feel it's a status symbol," said Cunning, the California dentist whose Web site also calls him the "Rapper Dentist Daddy."
Those who wear them say it is either an effort to attract women, a hip hop fashion statement, a desire to fit in or an effort to seek out their own place among their peers.
"I just got some gold teeth because I liked the way they look," said Nathan Warren, 21, of Indianapolis, who sells gold teeth part-time for gangstagold.com.
"It gets you more attention. Girls like it. I've always had women, but when I got more gold, I got more women. Now, they look at you like you've got money."
The women interviewed for this story, though, told a different story.
"When I see a mouth full of gold, I think they are some street dudes," said Liondra Harrold, 20, of St. Louis. "Most of the guys I know with a mouthful of gold hang out on the streets doing something they shouldn't be doing."
And I always thought the multiple gold teeth were just a tacky way to advertise poor dental hygiene.
Mugging just got a whole lot more painfull.
Men in WWII used to cut out the teeth of dead japanese soldiers for the gold....not a good idea to be flashing those babies around. Our society should really learn more about history. Greed gets rampant and teeth can become valuable for content.
I have certainly seen pictures enough on the covers of Hip-hop mags. It is just so f****ng ugly it is beyond words. Doubly so for women. Like neck tattoos, it is the badge of the criminal,'ho,loser, wannabe. I'm just glad to hear that "removable" versions are being used now. You might as well brand yourself on the forehead.
Does this mean that the world's greatest lovers are now the British?
Don't tell me, you get 12 popups and 4 spywares if you go there.
The IT guy at my office sent me the link a while back; we had a great time laughing about how stupid it is.
When I see these idiots, I just think they should have brushed their teeth, flossed and used mouthwash.
I guess I was wrong: they have more good money than good taste.
How bad can the economy really be?
And people wonder why I left the city.
These are the same winners that spend $4000 on "rims" for their $500 cars.
That site is just creepy...