The new style in smile
In business, it helps to have a dazzling smile.
But for Santa Barbara entrepreneur Monika Gruenwald, that
dazzling smile is her business. Ms. Gruenwald is hoping
DecoDent, her new venture into tooth jewelry, will leave
her and her customers with plenty to smile about.
A former dental assistant in Germany, she
discovered the European craze for flashing a bejeweled smile
during a return to her native land; she had a tiny crystal
fitted to a tooth and has been delighted with the reaction
ever since. "Most people think it's the coolest thing and
haven't seen it before," says Ms. Gruenwald, who now imports
and sells the crystals, which come in two sizes and three
colors: clear crystal, light blue and ruby red. She has
a small, clear one, which is the most popular type in Germany.
It's very subtle, and she says people don't even notice
until it catches the light.
Cut into 12 facets and coated to reflect light
like a diamond, the glass crystals should be fitted by a
dentist in a simple procedure that Ms. Gruenwald says takes
about five minutes. The dentist first etches a tiny spot
on the tooth to roughen the surface slightly before fixing
the crystal in place using light-cured bonding material.
It should stay there at least two or three
years, but it's an easy matter for the dentist to remove
it at any time and re-polish the tooth surface. Theoretically,
people could glue on their own tooth jewels, but Ms. Gruenwald
is so opposed to them even trying something so potentially
risky that she only supplies direct to dentists.Total price
for the tooth gem and fitting is around $100.
Ms. Gruenwald, 32, who has been in Santa Barbara
since 1999, says the beauty of this latest trend in body
art is that it is not permanent, like a tattoo, nor is it
invasive, like body piercing. She says that in Germany,
tooth jewelry appeals mostly to women in their teens to
about 35 or 40, and even in some cases women in their 60s.
The jewelry doesn't affect eating or dental care.
Ms. Gruenwald is hoping to build DecoDent
into a sustainable business, but in the meantime she is
holding down a part-time job with a local export company
while attending school in the evenings and working toward
a bachelor's degree.