Tooth tattoos are the latest body art craze and one that can certainly make your smile truly unique.  Before you take the plunge, here's a little more information about 'tatteeth' to help you decide if getting your molars inked is right for you.

Types of tooth tattoo

There are two types of tooth tattoos – permanent and temporary.

Temporary tooth tattoos

Temporary tooth tattoos are simply transfers that are glued to the teeth.  Your dentist can stick one of these mini-artworks onto your chosen tooth in a matter of minutes.  It's a painless procedure, and the tat can easily be removed when you've had enough of it.  If you don't fancy a trip to the dental surgery for your dental artwork, do-it-yourself temporary dental decals can be purchased online.  You simply remove the tat you want from the backing film and stick it onto your tooth.

Temporary tooth tattoos are pretty short-lived and can be removed quickly and painlessly by brushing your teeth using whitening toothpaste, or by gently scraping the tattoo away using your finger nails.

Permanent tooth tattoos

Unlike a normal tattoo on your skin, permanent tooth tattoos can't be applied directly to your natural teeth, as this would cause irreparable damage to the tooth enamel. 

Permanent tatteeth are designed to be applied directly to a traditional porcelain dental crown.  This means that you'd actually need to have a crown fitted by your dentist if you wanted this type of dental tattoo. 

The dentist will take an impression of the tooth requiring the crown in the usual way.  A mould is then created from the impression of your tooth.  The mould is then sent away to a dental lab where the crown is made and then returned to your dentist for fitting.  Once the dentist is happy with the fit of the crown, you can choose the design or image you'd like to have permanently applied to it.  The crown is then returned to the dental lab for finishing.

Back at the lab, the design you've chosen is inked onto the finished porcelain crown before being fired in an oven at a very high temperature to seal it onto the crown's surface.  The completed design should last for the life of the crown.

The non-invasive process is painless and typically costs between $75 and $200, depending on the complexity of the design you choose.  

Your permanent tooth tattoo won't come off as a result of everyday wear and tear, but you can have it removed if you decide you've had enough of it.  Your dentist will be able to buff the tattoo off the crown using a special dental brush and mildly abrasive toothpaste.  This procedure is painless and won't damage your crown or the tooth underneath it.

In conclusion

If you fancy giving your pearly whites a makeover and you're in need of a dental crown, have a chat with your dentist about having a permanent tooth tattoo applied.  For a small additional outlay and a couple of extra steps in the process of having a traditional crown fitted, you could have a personalised tooth tattoo.  Alternatively, if you fancy a try-out before opting for a permanent fixture, experiment with temporary tatteeth first.