Body tattoos have become so mainstream that it’s no longer unique or ultra-cool to sport inked skin anymore, which may explain the latest body modification fashion trend: tooth tattoos! But if you want to get in on the fun, you’ll have to make a trip to your dentist to get one or more of your teeth inked up.
First, you’ll need to have actual dental work done, in the form of getting a tooth crown. A dental crown is a customized tooth-shaped cap that is placed over an existing tooth to restore its shape and size following a procedure such as a root canal. Crowns are also applied to attach a bridge, increase a tooth’s strength, cap a cracked tooth, cover a tooth that has been partially removed due to advanced decay, or simply as a cosmetic procedure to improve the appearance of a tooth. Dental cement permanently secures the typically porcelain crown in place. In the past, some have opted for a crown constructed of gold to show off their smile, but a tooth tattoo takes this idea to another level.
Inked teeth are just as vibrant as skin tattoos, and they’re just as permanent. The tattoo doesn’t damage the crown in any way, and it remains in your mouth as long as the crown does. The reasons for getting a tooth tattooed are the same as for getting traditional body art, including expressing one’s love for another or simply to display a graphic that has personal meaning or symbolism.
More and more dentists are now taking their bite of the tooth tattoo pie. In actuality, doctors of dental surgery are merely the facilitators of the process. It begins with the dentist making an impression of the teeth and sending the mold off to a specialized lab that makes dental crowns. A few of these labs have hired skilled artists who specialize in inking images on porcelain crowns. The oldest and most famous of these labs is Suburban Dental Laboratory in Bloomfield, CT. Owner Steven Canter reports that the lab inked its first tooth tattoo in 1995. He remembers that the customer requested an image of his red Corvette for his crown. After the image is painted on the crown, the design is permanently baked into the porcelain at 212°F.
A Stylish Smile
Tooth art runs the gamut of imagination. But in order for the image to be easily recognizable, it must be kept simple. Artwork for crowns has included a patient’s or loved one’s initials, logos of professional sport teams, corporate logos (eg, Harley Davidson), rock bands (eg, the Grateful Dead), lightning bolts, and more. One patient had a picture of his pet pug dog baked into his crown. Another opted for a bright green shamrock in honor of his wife’s heritage, but he gets a lot of confused comments, such as, “You have a piece of broccoli stuck in your teeth.”
This Dentist Practices What He Preaches
Steven Landman, DDS began offering tooth tattoos in his Ellington, CT office 10 years ago. He was so enthralled with the idea that he got a tooth tattoo himself. Dr. Landman asked his daughter to draw a picture of herself and her 2 brothers, along with their names above their images. The stick-art picture was sent off to the lab and reproduced on Landman’s crown, which he now shows off. It’s a literal advertisement aimed at his patients, with a smile!
Tattooing a tooth won’t cost you an arm and a leg. Prices vary, but the average cost for getting 1 tooth inked ranges from $100 to a little under $200, and that would put you on the cutting edge.
- Daniels H, Wenzel IV J. Dentists offer personalized tattoos on your teeth. WFSB website. Updated June 11, 2014. http://www.wfsb.com/story/25506854/dentists-offer-personalized-tattoos-on-your-teeth.
- How do I get a crown made? Tooth Artist website. http://www.toothartist.com/Steps_in_getting_a_crown.html.
- McCormack D. Bored with body art? Tattooed TEETH allow people to display their devotion to a favorite football team or loved one on their crowns. Daily Mail website. May 18, 2014. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2631855/Bored-body-art-Tattooed-TEETH-allow-people-display-devotion-favorite-football-team-loved-one-crowns.html.
- Raczka R. Tooth tattoos are real. Boston website. May 20, 2014. http://www.boston.com/health/2014/05/20/tooth-tattoos-are-real/nUatetn0lRL8sOUsgbFqSO/story.html.