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Tooth gems, latest trend in the PH

by Gaby Agbulos

IF YOU’RE a fan of the likes of Beabadoobee or Billie Eilish, or if you’ve been on TikTok or Pinterest in the last year, then you’ve probably heard of the latest fashion trend that’s come back from the dead. 

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, then let me introduce to you the latest trend: tooth gems. 

Tooth gems, to put it simply, are small jewels that are placed onto the surface of the teeth, and have been seen on several celebrities like Drake, Hailey Bieber, Katy Perry, and the like. 

While this trend started to grow popular in the 90s, tooth gems have been here since the Mayan Civilization was around. At the time, they would put disks of jadeite or pyrite in their teeth, using it to symbolize wealth, or simply to embezzle their chompers. 

They then started to grow in popularity again during the 90s, and are now making a comeback with the new generation.

About the artist

Kassy Talavera, 25, refers to herself as a dental jewelry artist / tooth gem technician / tooth gem artist. She’s one of the few tooth gem artists that can be found in the Philippines, and first got into the craft a year ago when tooth gems started trending online. 

Any time she opened her Instagram or TikTok, she couldn’t seem to escape this trend, and Talavera had had a long love for bedazzling things even before becoming a tooth gem artist. 

While in the past she would only bedazzle skin protectors for vaping devices, she quickly learned how to do tooth gems as well, first by practicing on herself, then later on, her friends. 

“I know a lot of people, like my friends, wanting tooth gems but not knowing where to go for a reliable and safe procedure; it was kinda hard to get a hold of an artist here in Manila,” she explained.

“That’s why I looked into it – I decided I wanted to be that tooth fairy for my fellow Filipino and Filipina baes. I want more people to realize that apart from piercings, tattoos, and makeup, tooth gems are another medium to express oneself.”

Talavera first learned how to do tooth gems through extensive research online, then underwent several trainings, seminars, and workshops online, wherein she was given a handbook to help her further hone her craft.

At present, she has a mentor based in Melbourne, Australia who helps her with any questions she has, and also has a friend who’s a dentist whom she consults concerning the safety of these gems on people’s teeth. 

Starting by doing her friends’ gems for free to practice, she now has people coming in from all over just to get blinged out. 

An impermanent means of expression

Talavera, in particular, fell in love with tooth gems because of how unique they were; each person can personalize their design however they like.

She explained: “I adore the creative process involving crafting designs tailored to each individual’s personality and style, [and] what excites me about [them] is their ability to serve a sa unique expression of the self.” 

She’s thoroughly enjoyed the process of watching as the gems she uses make her clients feel more connected to themselves, amplifying who they are, or even revealing things about themselves they didn’t yet know in the past.

“I want my kapwa – my clients – to look in the mirror adorned with these personalized gems and feel an undeniable connection to their true selves,” she further explained.

“If I can contribute to enhancing someone’s self-confidence and self-love through my work, then I consider that the ultimate achievement.”

The best thing about tooth gems? Unlike getting a tattoo, these don’t last forever.

If you get tired of having them or want to change the design, you can have them removed whenever you want.

Typically, though, Talavera notes that they can last for six months up to a couple of years depending on how you take care of them.

The blingifcation process

For Talavera, she usually works on each client for about 30 minutes to an hour, though this amount of time may vary depending on the intricacy of the design and the number of gems being applied.

During my appointment with her at her home studio in Makati, we started off the session by figuring out the design I wanted for my teeth. 

She placed the gems I wanted on the desired teeth, helping me figure out what would look best before we then moved on to the application process. 

The process itself probably lasted for about 30 minutes and was completely painless. I wore a lip retractor for the majority of the process, and she started by applying a swab of Vitamin E to ensure that my lips wouldn’t dry out while applying the gems.

After this, she cleaned and prepared the tooth with a small brush before applying the “etch,” a gel substance that prepares the tooth for attachment to the gem. She then put some dental adhesive onto it, placing the gem/s onto the tooth and bonding it. 

To finish the process, she cured the gem with a UV light to set the adhesive for four to five 20-minute cycles, then polished the gem off.

After such a short amount of time, voila! I was done. 

There are a few things you need to consider in terms of aftercare, such as not being able to eat or drink for the first two hours, having to brush gentler on the areas with gems, and overall just getting used to the feeling of having gems on your teeth.

Still, all of it was worth it for me as soon as I saw how pretty the gems looked as they sparkled against the light. 

As someone who’s always been insecure about their smile, I quickly understood Talavera when she’d earlier told me that many of her clients often find themselves smiling more after getting their tooth gems put in.

Talavera’s rates, at present, range from 1, 000 to 4, 000 PHP per gem or design, though this may not be indicative of the rates of other tooth gem artists in the country.

Totally safe

Like any professional, all materials and tools used by Talavera are a hundred percent safe. 

She sources high-quality dental gems from trusted suppliers that are designed specifically for oral use. Her 18k gold charms, on the other hand, are made and produced in the Philippines.

Aside from her mentor in Australia, she consults with her dentist friend on any concerns she may have in terms of her practice and waits for the approval of the latter on the high-quality dental products she uses on clients. 

On her clients, she uses dental adhesive to ensure that the gems are properly secured to the tooth in a manner that won’t cause any risk of damage or irritation. 

Talavera explains that it is extremely rare that tooth gems done by a professional would lead to tooth damage, and that more often than not, those who do experience tooth damage after getting them done do not experience such because of tooth gems themselves.

Damage, often, is a result of poor oral hygiene and neglecting to take care of your teeth properly, hence why it’s important to continue to clean your teeth regularly and go to the dentist even if you get tooth gems put in. 

This can also happen if you apply tooth gems improperly, or get them done by someone not qualified to do so; this may result in enamel damage or tooth decay, hence why you should never do them yourself!

When done properly, the procedure is safe and non-invasive, which is why you should invest in a professional tooth gem artist instead of trying to do it with a DIY kit you bought online.

For Talavera, the versatile, temporary nature of tooth gems makes them a fun and unique way to express yourself.

All in all, they’re a low-risk, high-impact way to enhance your smile, making sure that you stand out from the crowd. 



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