Gold Teeth by the Mouthful

Is it real or is it Wrigley's?

By Al Carlos Hernandez
Published on LatinoLA: May 31, 2003

Gold Teeth by the Mouthful

Many hip hop artists, particularly those from the down and dirty South, have taken to major gold and platinum dental work that makes their shiny smiles look like the grill of an Escalade.

Gold and platinum teeth or caps seem to be a cyclical, functional, yet extreme fashion statement. This type of permanent jewelry has fallen or has been knocked in and out of vogue for years. I remember a gold tooth-wearing Mexicano down in Texas play an air accordion to a conjunto tune. He didn?t have the complete set, just the two pointy vampire ones. I suspect he had the rest of his new dentures on layaway, and in the interim his set up proved handy as a can opener.

There is a rap artist named ?Baby? from the Cash Money crew who is alleged to have over one hundred thousand dollars of platinum teeth. It seems an ironic waste of wealth to invest that much money into what lyrically sounds like a fourteen dollar head.

?Flossing? or conspicuous consumption, in it most literal sense, is getting out of hand and if it bites the hand that feeds you, you will need surgery.

I like jewelry and have a reasonable amount of blink-blinkage myself. Charles Dickens in his book Great Expectations wrote about the value of jewelry as portable property wealth. In other words, always wear something that you can hock.

As far as the human body is concerned, I am a firm believer in standard equipment. People have every right to implant, tuck, suck, pull, pin back whatever. Maybe I?m too old school but I don?t find the beauty in metal munchers or white eyed contact lenses. Only Cucuy?s are supposed to look like that.

People spend a lifetime working towards staying young, looking better, and appearing prosperous. Big timers often time go overboard in the face decorating department and end looking preposterous trying to make a statement. Mike Tyson has gold teeth AND a face tattoo.

Precious metal teeth can only make one look Ghetto Fabulous. You could never claw your way to respectability with a grill full of spit shined chrome bicuspids. There seems to be a societal illegitimacy about a smile crooked or otherwise that grins anything other than bright white, straight, well-maintained teeth.

If you have buckteeth, you get what you pay for.

You can tell a lot about a person by their smile and/or their reluctance to do so. Anything, including lettuce, that incites a second look at your dental hygiene could prove embarrassing, especially since one of my sons demonstrated to me that you can easily duplicate the platinum grill look by covering your teeth with the aluminum Juicy Fruit wrapper. This begs the questions: Is it real or is it Wrigley?s?

How can someone spends hundreds of thousands of dollars for teeth then wears a $9 t-shirt, a shower cap, and K-Mart house shoes? I wonder if there is such a thing as a court-ordered math class?

If these fellas put the money in T Bills, instead of teeth bills, they would have more than enough money saved to send dozens of kids to dental school and who would become dentists just in time for the by-then played-out hipsters to need real teeth. If they keep wasting their money when their stars fade, they will have nothing but humble pie to munch on.

I hope we are not mugging towards a time when someone gets "cara" jacked.

Does having several thousands of dollars worth of accessories added to your body makes you a more valuable person? I don?t think so. Doing something that dramatic simply tells the world that your self image is a punching bag, and you didn?t deserve the amount of wealth that afforded you that opportunity.

The audacity of mouthful of precocious metals is surpassed only by the ignominy that got that got the Homie the big money in the first place.

About Al Carlos Hernandez:
Al Carlos is a national columnist and a screenwriter.

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