Would I Get a Tattoo on My Tooth?

Think back to the advice they gave you at home when you were growing up. If youre like most Americans, your parents probably warned you against getting a tattoo. Maybe they cautioned you about how permanent they are, or the possibility that your skin won’t look the same in 20, 30 or 40 years. 


However, as many choose to heed those warnings, no one things to caution Americans about tattoos of the teeth. Yes, the teeth! While sharing similar qualities—there are temporary and permanent options, and it’s generally an uncomfortable process—tooth tattoos are worth their own conversation. 


If you are curious about the process, or maybe you haven’t ever heard of a tooth tattoo, then keep reading to learn more!  

 What you need to know about tooth tattoos

Tattoos, on your teeth? 


Did you know that more than 40% of American adults have at least one tattoo? And, while not yet mainstream in the United States, tattoos on the teeth have been popular in India and Europe for some time. 


Aesthetics have always been an important part of dentistry. Its no surprise that teeth whitening, for instance, is the most popular cosmetic procedure. But aside from technological advancements in tooth whitening services and ways to straighten your teeth, the fundamental dental evaluations around the way teeth look haven’t changed much. 


Dental tattoos are designs incorporated onto an artificial tooth crown before cemented onto the prepared tooth in the mouth. Both metal and ceramic crowns can be utilized. You might remember that, when we have discussed crowns, they can technically be put onto any tooth to strengthen it. That means that dental tattoos can be placed on any tooth as well. 


Unlike traditional tattoos where a design is made by inserting ink, dyes and pigments with a needle into the skin, a tooth tattoo is created on the crown that is then placed over the tooth.  


I’m intrigued. Whats the process? 


First, if you choose to get a dental tattoo, it’s important you go to an actual dentist. We all know someone who got a traditional tattoo from some friend of a friend—don’t take that risk with your mouth! 


Next, before agreeing to complete any procedure, your dentist will examine the tooth that you’d like to put the tattoo on. The tooth must be in good shape and deemed fit. 


An impression is then taken of the tooth, and that is used to create the crown. 


Finally, the chosen image is carved into the crown at the dental lab and baked in an oven to make it a permanent, lasting design. With the tattoo request and impression taken, both are sent to a dental lab by your dentist. The crown should take two weeks to complete. 


After filing the tooth down to fit the crown, the placed crown restores the tooth to its normal shape, size and function. A crown can sometimes make the tooth stronger or improve the way it looks. Crowns are made from several types of materials. Metal alloys, ceramics, porcelain, porcelain fused to metal, or composite resin may be used. When a crown is made, the material is colored to blend in with your natural teeth. 


Installing the tattoo requires no additional precautions or adjusted procedures than placing a normal crown (and is a lot less painful than getting a skin tattoo). The image should last the life of the crown. Some dentists might choose to do the artwork themselves; however, it is most common for it to be sent out for a professional artist. 


If you get a traditional tattoo and then change your mind years later, the removal process can be both costly and painful. If you get a tooth tattoo and decide you no longer like it, the good news is that it can be removed in of minutes upon request. Your dentist will simply buff off the tattoo with a dental brush, removing the tattoo completely while leaving the dental crown in place. 


What are popular tooth tattoo designs? 


The only true design limitation is the small size of each tooth. Designs are handprinted onto the crown prior to firing the porcelain. From pictures of pets to short words, designers have seen it all when it comes to tooth tattoos. If it fits on the tooth, it is possible for it to be tattooed. Determining how large and intricate you want your design, as well as how visible you want the tattoo to be, will help you decide which tooth to tattoo as well. 


Bottom line: is this bad for your teeth? 


The good news about tooth tattoos is that, unlike a traditional tattoo, these aren’t as permanent. Since the tattoo is drawn on the crown, your dentist can simply buff out the design if you change your mind. The most important thing to remember is to seek out a reputable dentist to do the work. The right dentist will work with an artistic team to create the dental tattoo you desire.  

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