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    Chelsea Powers, owner of Weightless Float Center in Irish Hill, adjusts a headlamp over her blond hair and says, “This is my super-sexy headlamp.” She laughs, revealing three silver gems on her back teeth. Recently, celebs like Katy Perry, Pink and Kylie Jenner have been spotted with bling on their pearly whites, the resurrection of a ’90s trend. Powers has been wearing and applying tooth gems for the past seven years.

    In the massage room in the back of the Float Center, the lighting is low, so the headlamp brightens her view during the application process. She hands me a pair of thick, red-tinted glasses to protect my eyes from the UV light she will use to set the 1.8-millimeter Swarovski crystal gem onto my right canine. Keeping our voices low, as a courtesy to clients who might be floating in one of the salt tanks, Powers tells me to keep my mouth open wide. “Moisture is the enemy of putting on a tooth gem,” she says, placing a round piece of cotton between my upper lip and gums. Powers then frosts the tooth with an etching gel to give the dental-grade glue something to adhere to. She applies a glue used to bond braces. Using tweezers, she carefully places the tiny crystal onto my tooth. She then takes a minute to cure the glue with a handheld UV light. “They typically last anywhere from three to six months,” she says. “I’ve had some last a year.” Powers removes the cotton from my mouth, and I run my tongue over my new accessory. It’s warm from the UV light. “It’s so cute,” she says, handing me a mirror. I smile, my tiny gem sparkling back at me.

    “They’re dainty and they’re fun, but it’s not permanent and it doesn’t damage the tooth,” she says. She advises going to a dentist to have the gem removed and the tooth polished, but she says she has had clients who take them off with tweezers. Powers says she thinks people get tooth gems and precious metals (she also carries gold and silver applications) as a way to define cultural status. “Not everyone can afford a grill,” she says, “but almost everyone can afford a $50 tooth gem.”

    People don’t notice it immediately. I’ll be talking to somebody for 20 minutes and then, out of nowhere and with a puzzled look, they’ll say, “Is that a diamond on your tooth?” My dad doesn’t understand why I got the gem but does say it looks “badass.” My boyfriend is a little underwhelmed. I think he expected me to smile and be blinded by a disco ball. When he saw it for the first time, he said, “That’s it?”

    This originally appeared in the March 2019 issue of Louisville Magazine under the headline "Ice, Ice." To subscribe to Louisville Magazineclick here. To find us on newsstands, click here.

    Cover photo: The author's new tooth gem.

    Katie Molck's picture

    About Katie Molck

    Loretta Lynn is the best country music singer of all time and if you don't like pickled foods, you can leave.

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