When Kanye West showed Ellen DeGeneres his new gold and diamond front teeth yesterday, she could hardly believe him. "You just put it on top of your teeth?" asked DeGeneres. "No," the rap superstar replied. "It's, like, replaced my bottom row of teeth." We here at the Music Mix had our doubts, too, so we called an expert, Dr. Emanuel Layliev of the New York Center for Cosmetic Dentistry.

Layliev is unconvinced by West's claim to have yanked his teeth and put precious metals and minerals in their place. "It's a possibility, but I really doubt that the gold was extended into his actual socket within the gum and bone to replace the actual teeth themselves," says the dentist. "There's no way you can just place the gold into the gum or the bone without any connection to your natural teeth."

According to Layliev, it's much more likely that West had his teeth trimmed down and used them as support for a gold and diamond encrusted bridge, more or less as Ellen suspected. It's also possible that West had his front teeth surgically removed, replaced them with titanium implants, and then had the flashy structure built on top. The latter procedure would require a months-long waiting period for the titanium implants to set.

Either way, Layliev says the medical risks involved are minimal. "It's not a very harmful thing to do at all. Gold, if anything, is better than any restorative material out there in dentistry." He also endorses West's statement that he cleans his new choppers with regular toothpaste. "That's fine, as long as he's also rinsing his mouth with some type of antiseptic mouth rinse — and flossing."

Aside from the obvious cost of supplying the gold and diamonds, Layliev says it wouldn't necessarily be more expensive than any standard oral surgery. An insurance plan might even cover the main dental work, though of course not the jewels. All that said, very few people other than West are likely to go through with this. "It's not a common procedure," Layliev notes. "We don't do much of this at the office. We're more into beautifying teeth from a natural perspective."

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