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Tooth Tattoo: What's That?

A Statista survey found that 40 percent of American adults have at least one tattoo. For some, permanently inking words or images on their skin is a form of self-expression — but skin isn't the only place for some ink. A tooth tattoo is a unique form of body art. Before you start designing your new smile, make sure you have all the facts about the process.

How Does a Tooth Tattoo Work?

While it might be called a tattoo, inking your teeth doesn't really resemble the process you'd go through to tattoo your skin. You'll need to book an appointment at your dentist's office rather than a tattoo parlor.

According to the Indian Journal of Dental Advancements, permanent tooth tattoos can only be applied to crowns — not natural teeth. Your dentist will take an impression and create a crown that will fit your tooth. The impression is sent to a dental lab that specializes in tooth tattoos and an artificial crown is made. An artist will paint the chosen design onto the crown using dental sealant to protect the work from saliva and erosion. It's then sent back to the dentist for placement on your tooth. While the cost varies, you'll need to pay for both the crown and the design.

Tooth tattoos can be applied to any crown, but molars may be a popular choice since they typically have a large surface area. 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.

Is It Safe?

Unlike skin tattoos, the ink from tooth tattoos doesn't touch any part of your body. In fact, the finished product is closer to a sticker than it is a traditional tattoo, since the tattoo is drawn on a crown and not your natural teeth. If you're considering a tooth tattoo, make sure to use a reputable dental lab that has medical-grade dental sealant to ensure the design has been properly sealed on the crown. Never have a tattoo artist place ink directly on your natural teeth.

It's easy to remove a tooth tattoo if you change your mind. Your dentist can gently sand the crown until the design has been eroded away. Some dental labs also offer temporary tooth tattoos that can be stuck on the teeth in a matter of minutes and don't require crown installation.

Consult your dentist if you have questions about getting a tooth tattoo. The right artist can work with your dental team to make your tooth a tiny canvas.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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