Are You Ready for Tooth Tattoos?
Just when you thought you’d run out of places on your body to put a tattoo, along comes the latest in dental fashion statements: tooth tattoos. In truth, companies like Connecticut’s Suburban Dental Laboratory and Washington’s Pacific Dental Arts have actually been offering “tatteeth” for up to two decades now, but it’s been gaining notoriety lately with the general public.
As bizarre as it sounds, tooth tattoos offer many advantages over traditional skin tattoos. First, because the design is so much smaller and more basic, the process is a lot quicker. Also speeding up the procedure is the fact that the patient doesn’t have to sit in the dentist’s chair while the design is being drawn. The dentist just makes an impression of the tooth and sends it to an outside company to create the tatted crown. When the patient returns to the office, the dentist just fits the crown over the existing tooth, securing it with dental cement. Because the process is so quick, it’s also less painful that typical tattoos.
Another advantage of tatteeth is that they’re very easy to conceal. Not only are the designs tiny, but they’re usually placed on molars and bicuspids, meaning they’re hidden by the patient’s cheeks. Some patients even choose to put their tattoos on the interior (i.e., the tongue side, rather than the cheek side) of the tooth, making it even more unlikely that anyone will see it unless the patient chooses to reveal it.
Additionally, tooth tattoos are cheaper than a lot of real tats, running in the range of $75 to $200 — on top of the cost of the crown. The crown would probably be covered by the patient’s dental insurance, but they will most likely have to shell out their own money for the tattoo.
And don’t worry about tatteeth fading away over time; they’re permanently ingrained in the porcelain. But, unlike skin tattoos, if the patient ever wants them removed, all that’s required is returning to the dentist for a painless, five-minute polishing with a rubber wheel to grind down a layer of the crown.
The only catch with tooth tattoos — other than the fact that you might be constantly told that you have food stuck in your teeth — is that they aren’t completely voluntary. A dentist won’t just give a patient a crown because they want Hello Kitty on their bicuspid. There has to be a dental need for a crown first, and once that’s established, a dentist can provide the impression for a tattooth if the patient desires.
(Sources: WFSB, Yahoo, Styleite, Pacific Dental Arts, Suburban Dental Laboratory)