Tooth Tattoo: What's That?

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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Common Conditions During ADULTHOOD

As we get older, dental care for adults is crucial. Here are a few of the conditions to be aware of:

Gum disease – if your home care routine of brushing and flossing has slipped and you have skipped your regular dental cleanings, bacterial plaque and tartar can build up on your teeth. The plaque and tartar, if left untreated, may eventually cause irreparable damage to your jawbone and support structures, and could lead to tooth loss.

Oral cancer – according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, men over the age of 40 have the greatest risk for oral cancer. About approximately 43,000 people will be diagnosed with cancer of the mouth, tongue or throat area, and the ACS estimates that about 7,000 people will die from these cancers. The use of tobacco products and alcohol increases the risk of oral cancer. Most oral cancers are first diagnosed by the dentist during a routine checkup.

Dental fillings break down – fillings have a life expectancy of eight to 10 years. However, they can last 20 years or longer. When the fillings in your mouth start to break down, food and bacteria can get underneath them and can cause decay deep in the tooth.