The Business of Beauty: Saltyeeth’s founder on the future of tooth gems

Iced out


By Redzhanna Jazmin

The Business of Beauty: Saltyeeth’s founder on the future of tooth gems

A fun and low-commitment way to indulge in body modification, tooth gems are the hottest trend to come back through the Y2K renaissance. While they never really went out of style, they’ve never exactly been easy to cop in our neck of the world… until now.

Introducing Saltyeeth: The tooth gem hub making iced-out smiles accessible for all. A quick scroll through their Instagram will yield countless photos of sparkling smiles, adorned with crystals and gold charms in increasingly eye-catching designs.

Fun fact: The local business counts our April cover star, Arabyrd, among its loyal clientele!

To glean more about the growing niche, we spoke to the woman behind the business, Elena Laurel. In our exclusive, she delves into her journey as an entrepreneur, her top tips for getting your teeth bedazzled, and even dishes on some of her best business tips:



What inspired you to launch Saltyeeth?

“Tooth gems have always been an interest of mine ever since I got my first gem about five years ago from a local dentist. Since then, I have been super fascinated by how we could bedazzle our teeth with Swarovski crystals and gold charms! I also knew a lot of people around me that wanted tooth gems but didn’t know where to go to get them done safely and properly. So, I looked into it and started Saltyeeth!”


While Malaysia does have a few tooth gem artists, your business is by far the most prominent. What drew you to this niche market? 

“When Saltyeeth started, tooth gems were trending like crazy online. My Instagram and Tiktok explore pages were filled with them, but it was kinda hard to get a hold of an artist here in Malaysia. So, I decided that I wanted to be that tooth fairy for my fellow Malaysian baes—plus, I wanted to just play around and go ham on my own teeth too.

“To add, tooth gems also felt like they were only accessible through these expensive home DIY kits from the US. Not only were we limited to a few gems and designs, but the shipping fee was crazy too. That’s when I was like, ‘okay, this is another reason why I need to bring the industry to Malaysia’.”


What went into launching your business?

“I did my research and stumbled upon other established tooth gem businesses that were providing courses. I reached out to one from Australia and they sent a kit over to me to supplement the online tooth gem training. That kick-started my journey as a tooth gem artist.

“From there, I applied what I learned and practised on close friends and family to further hone my craft. When I was confident enough, Saltyeeth was born. A year later, Saltyeeth now has its own suppliers for most of the products but I still do reach out to my mentor for 18kt gold charms and opal charms. Saltyeeth also recently started providing courses and supplies to those interested in starting their own tooth gem business!”



What excites you about tooth gems and the future of this niche? 

“That it has the power to make people smile more! Some of our favourite things to hear from our clients after sessions are ‘For some reason, I just can’t stop smiling now’, or ‘OMG, now I have more reasons to smile’. Hearing these comments always reminds us of why we started the business in the first place. 

“I think I’m also excited to explore the possibilities—to create more on this little canvas that people entrust me with in time to come. The industry is getting super creative, so I’m excited to see more people in Malaysia let Saltyeeth go crazy on their teeth!”


What do you wish more people knew before getting iced?

“That getting tooth gems is a painless procedure! A lot of people come into the studio thinking that I will be drilling a hole in the tooth. Yes, some countries have that service but not in Malaysia and definitely not in Saltyeeth. Causing permanent damage to the tooth is the last thing I want.

“I would also encourage people to consider getting their teeth checked up and cleaned before getting gems if they have not done so in a while. Our gems and charms not only look better on a clean and healthy set of teeth, but they last better as well!”



What does the process of icing out your teeth look like?

“We always start the session with a consultation; what kind of vibe and look that the clients are looking for while also keeping in mind the client’s teeth structure and eating habits. From there, we curate and design the gems in a way that does not disrupt the bite and overall function of the teeth.

“Once the designs and placements are finalised, we begin the application process. Ensuring the gems are applied safely and comfortably on our clients is our top priority. Oftentimes, clients start with a simple design, and they’ll contemplate getting more towards the end of the session. Tooth gems are addictive!’


What does the aftercare involve?

‘For the gems to set on the tooth completely after the session, it is advised to not eat and consume anything other than water for the first three hours and to only brush the teeth eight hours later.

“There’s nothing too tedious for long-term aftercare other than eating gently and avoiding biting into hard food like fried chicken, crab, apples or corn on the part of the teeth that have gems.

“I would also advise my clients to have their oral hygiene brought up a notch by spending extra time cleaning their teeth with a soft-bristled brush to really get in between and around the gems—and also floss correctly and safely.”


Do you have any advice for budding niche business owners?

“Since you specified budding niche business owners, I would say be prepared for the slow days. It takes time to build interest and desire in your audience—especially for something niche—so be patient and be consistent, and have fun!”



You’ve grown the Saltyeeth brand considerably since the business’ launch. How are you coping with your growing clientele?

“It is still pretty manageable at the moment as a one-person show, however, it gets pretty wild during our pop-ups, so I’ll usually have one or two assistants to help me out.

“We have been getting a lot of clients from Singapore lately, so that has been a lot of fun! It’s still insane to think that I have clients who have travelled across states and seas just to get their teeth done with us.”


What are you hoping to achieve through Saltyeeth? 

“To explore the possibilities of creative expression, but this time through teeth. I want more people to realise that apart from piercings, tattoos and makeup, tooth gems are another medium to express oneself!”


Find more beauty stories like this here.

Explore More