HARARE – As Zimbabwe’s youths become more enterprising to earn a living without resorting to stealing, dental grills have become the latest trend of products to be peddled on the streets of Harare.
Grills, as they are more commonly referred to, are a status symbol for many hip-hop artists in the United States particularly Lil Wayne and Birdman.
The grills that most people see on popular programmes on satellite television are made from either gold or platinum and encrusted with various jewels like diamonds.
Grills, also called fronts, are removable and fit over the front teeth. In Harare, however, grills are being sold on cardboard sheets arranged by roadside with prices starting from $3 to the most expensive which are $50.
A grills vendor, in the Central Business District, Farai Mabhiza said the idea started after noticing the growing hip-hop following in Harare.
Mabhiza said he realised that most young men wanted to complete their look with grills, hence he had to make them.
His materials are usually copper and other cheap metals which he burns using a soldering iron to create the look.
“My apartment in Mufakose is my workshop. I have all my tools in there and it is there where I create the grills from. Sometimes I bring the iron to town in case a client wants to have their grills altered in a certain way,” he said.
A clothes vendor in the CBD, however, said in as much as he is into being fashion-forward, he would never buy grills from the street.
Obert Nduna said he is very aware of the fact that the grills were not made in a sterile environment which makes them very unhygienic.
“Yes we are experiencing hard times in the country, but buying such personal items on the streets is a no for me. What if my mouth reacts to those grills and my teeth start falling out? I simply cannot risk my life for fashion,” Nduna said.
A dentist who spoke to the Daily News on Sunday said while dental grills may be a fashion item that millennials are going after; there is nothing ‘‘cool’’ about the damage they could cause to one’s smile.
The dentist, however, said because dental grills have not yet become very popular, people go to South Africa to get them made.
“It is very important to visit a dentist regarding the steps for dental grill placement and the implications it may have. Street vendors are not reliable because they are not qualified for such things. Even the materials that they use could cause adverse effects on oral health,” he said.
According to the Colgate website grills can have an effect on one’s health and it is important to conduct thorough oral hygiene procedures including flossing and brushing to prevent gingivitis and tooth decay caused by food and plaque.
“Dental grills can also cause abrasion to adjoining teeth, gum recession, tooth discolouration or chipped teeth.
“A grill should always be removed before eating or rinsing to clean the mouth, and may cause an allergic reaction to the metal,” the website says.