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Ye’s titanium teeth: How would they fare as teeth? Experts weigh in on his oral transformation

The controversial 46-year-old artist, whose publicity stunts have grown increasingly bizarre in recent years, revealed the elaborate dental work on Instagram this week.

Kanye West at the Oscar Party wearing oversized sunglasses, a black shirt, and a chunky gold necklace.
Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, is sporting some new bling: “titanium teeth” that reportedly cost him $850,000. 

The controversial 46-year-old artist, whose publicity stunts have grown increasingly bizarre in recent years, revealed the elaborate dental work on Instagram this week. The apparent inspiration for his oral transformation: the steel-mouthed James Bond villain Jaws, the artist said. 

While it was first reported that the rapper had his teeth removed to make way for the titanium set, the Washington Post reported, quoting a source close to Ye, that his teeth are still intact. 

But another dental technician directly involved in the experiment, Naoki Hayashi, also suggested that the star’s teeth were removed. The Post reports that the “denture-like structure” made of titanium was installed and is “fixed and permanent.”

A spokesperson for Ye reached out to Northeastern Global News to confirm that the titanium dental contraption is, in fact, his teeth, adding that they are not “dentures.”

Beyond the shock value, how might such a titanium structure fare as a set of chompers in the long run?


Ye may encounter obstacles with his new titanium teeth, but according to Northeastern experts, the material likely won’t be the cause. #KanyeWest #Ye #KanyeTeeth #EntertainmentNews

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Northeastern materials experts say that the metal is generally more durable, lighter and able to survive the harsh environments produced within the body. Likely Ye wouldn’t run into any issues — although, in some people, the metal can rarely cause an allergic reaction or other side effects.

“Titanium has very good properties,” says Hai-Ping Cheng, professor of physics in the College of Science. “Durability is the most important part in dental application.”

But the experts also note that Ye’s dental contraption is far from ordinary, let alone dentally necessary. More commonly, metals such as gold and chromium are used in restorative dentistry when it comes to repairing damaged teeth. 

“Titanium is not a common metal for a tooth crown — most are made of gold, chromium and chromium-nickel alloys,” says Laura Lewis, a university distinguished professor of chemical engineering at Northeastern.

Lewis notes, however, that titanium crowns are available in Australia.

“Titanium, like aluminum, gets oxidized easily on the surface,” Cheng says, “but the oxidation on the surface actually protects the metal underneath it. It becomes like a natural coating to protect the metal underneath it.”

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Lewis says that titanium is a common material for implants in the body for, among other benefits, its “biocompatibility,” meaning it is able to withstand interactions with bodily fluids and tissue without breaking down. It is commonly used in hip replacement parts and tooth implants, she says.

“Titanium grows a thin, impervious oxide coating that is both corrosion-resistant and biocompatible,” Lewis says. 

If Ye actually did have his teeth removed for titanium implants, the process likely would have been far more laborious. During implantation, the titanium part of the tooth implant goes directly into the bone of the jaw, Lewis says. The false tooth is then fixed to the implant post, and it can be made of many materials, including a material with diamonds embedded in it.

Upon extraction of the original tooth, the patient needs to rebuild the bone in the jaw to support the implant — a process that takes time and is often uncomfortable, Lewis says. 

“It is extremely challenging to machine titanium into detail parts, such as those that might serve as a realistic tooth crown, as it is very hard to deform,” Lewis says. “Titanium has a very high melting temperature, which correlates with its great difficulty to machine and shape.”

Putting aside Ye’s flashy smile, is the future of teeth in artificial materials? For purposes both practical and — increasingly, it would appear — aesthetic and cosmetic, the answer is: yes. “It’s already happening,” Cheng says.

A previous version of this story described Ye’s new teeth as dentures. A Ye spokesperson reached out to Northeastern Global News to confirm that they are permanent titanium teeth.