If you could call it a drink, call it a smile on the rocks — teeth bling is back in a major way. But did it ever really leave? Blame it on Gen Z‘s fondness for throwback fashion moments, blinging out your teeth is one of the most popular aesthetic enhancements on the market.

On TikTok, the tooth gems hashtag has garnered over 470 million views, and searches for the dental customization have increased 85 percent year over year, according to a 2022 Pinterest Predicts report. But customizing your smile with the help of rhinestones, gems or diamonds is anything but new.

Grills, also known as “Grillz” or “fronts(z),” like many trends, have heavy roots in hip-hop and Black American culture. The customizable dental jewelry has been worn by some of our industry faves like Slick Rick and Big Daddy Kane since the ’80s. They started as full, removable trays made of gold and other metals, evolving into the blinged-out diamond trays we associate with Nelly, Paul Wall and Chamillionaire, to name a few.

Fast forward to the minimalism-forward stylings of today, and blinging out a tooth or two rather than your entire mouth is all the rage, with DIY kits and tooth gem stations springing up all over the place.

From FKA Twigs and Rihanna to Drake and Saint West, understated but noticeable teeth bling is the latest iteration of a beloved and time-honored practice.

It is my belief that the world can always use a little more shine. Still, it is interesting to see the way these “trendy” gems are perceived when worn by the likes of Billie Eilish and Hailey Bieber compared to the way they were demonized when worn by the rappers who largely popularized the trend.

This is not to disparage those who wish to join in on the trend, as the art of customizing your teeth has been around as far back as the seventh century BC, and has experienced many ebbs and flows in the vast passage of time since.

As we embrace seemingly “new” beauty motifs because we find them “cool” or “fun,” it’s imperative we do our due diligence in researching and acknowledging the storied histories of these trends.