Posted by Amy Carbone on Sep 28, 2023 10:40:00 AM
Gone are the days when no one wanted to go to the dentist. Trends like grills and gems have taken cosmetic dentistry to a whole different level: imagine going to the dentist for fun! Even some dentists and dental assistants now sport body modifications themselves. Now, tattoos for teeth are the latest cosmetic alteration creating buzz in the dental industry.
It’s possible that at some point in your career, a patient will ask you if they can add something a little extra to their smile. With that in mind, here’s what you need to know about teeth tattoos.
Understanding Teeth Tattoos
What are Teeth Tattoos?
Despite the name, this trend does not involve drilling a design directly into a patient’s tooth as is done with ordinary dermal tattoos. Despite the recent chatter over teeth tattoos, the trend has actually been around for longer than you might expect. A dental patient in Connecticut was the first to inquire about the procedure over 20 years ago, asking for a Corvette design to be added to the crown while it was being created at the lab. Thus, the first tooth tattoo was born.
Since then, some dentists have offered designs for crowns. To get this type of cosmetic dentistry, a patient must be a candidate for a crown and the lab must be able to add one. This is, of course, not to be confused with the cutting-edge dental technology also known as the tooth tattoo that can measure bacteria in the mouth.
Are Teeth Tattoos Temporary or Permanent?
The cosmetic modification of an artificial crown will last the life of the crown — roughly 10 to 15 years. Good oral hygiene, including brushing, flossing, and avoiding chewing hard foods, is key to maintaining the life of the crown. If a patient with a tattooed crown changes their mind, they would need a full crown replacement to remove the tattoo.
Stickers, designs, or jewelry fixed to teeth can be a temporary alternative. Keep in mind, most stickers and designs are glued to the teeth and won’t last more than a few days at best. Patients can have a dentist add these temporary options, but many styles and types of temporary tooth tattoos are available online.
The Process of Getting a Tooth Tattoo
Not all dentists offer teeth tattoos, as it’s considered a specialty cosmetic dentistry service. The procedure is the same as placing a crown, with the added step of sending the tattoo design to the lab. This means that the tooth must be prepared for the crown (including a root canal, if necessary).
Since adding the tattoo to the crown is done in the lab, the actual crown procedure does not take additional time. The price of the tattooed crown may include the procedure itself, the modified crown, and other costs such as dental X-rays.
Dental Considerations and Precautions
Cosmetic modifications, including dental grills, tooth gems, and ornamental crowns, are not recommended by the American Dental Association. No research to date shows that tattooed teeth are either safe or unsafe.
Potential Complications or Risks
Because tooth tattoos and other cosmetic modifications are legitimate dental procedures, there are risks to your patient.
These risks may include:
- Plaque build-up
- Gum disease
- Allergic reactions
- Enamel or gum damage
If your patient asks about the possibility of tattoos or cosmetic modifications, communicate the risks and inform your patient of guidelines for proper care and long-term maintenance to prevent negative outcomes like those listed above.
Putting Your Dental Patients First
Some patients may find adding some flair to their dental crowns appealing. When you help your patients with informed decision-making, you’re putting their health first. A patient-first mentality can help you grow your practice and increase your patient list.
For more tips on how to grow your patient list, download our eBook.
About Treloar & Heisel
Treloar & Heisel, an EPIC Company, offers dental and medical professionals a comprehensive suite of financial products and services ranging from business and personal insurance to wealth management. We are proud to assist thousands of clients from residency to practice and through retirement. Our experienced teams deliver custom-tailored advice through an active local presence, while our strong national network ensures that clients experience the same high level of service throughout the country.