There are many different specialities within the overall field of dentistry that address the many different issues individuals can encounter when trying to establish, maintain and protect their oral health. The area of cosmetic dentistry is often considered to be solely focused around improving the appearance of one’s teeth and smile, especially in cases where the individual is suffering from misshapen, discolored, chipped or fractured teeth and specific dental procedures can be used to help create a more natural, healthy and attractive appearance. However, cosmetic dentistry can also include other procedures that are designed to simply enhance or decorate the teeth, such as dental tattoos.
The History of Enhancing Teeth
While the exact technique employed in the creation of modern dental tattoos may be relatively new, the basic concept of enhancing one’s teeth actually has a much longer history. As an example, women in both China and Japan once considered it a natural part of their beauty regimen to stain their teeth black, while teeth that are somehow decorated in gold, or even replaced entirely with gold, has long been a status symbol in many different cultures. Perhaps it is because teeth are so readily visible that they have long been used as a sort of artistic canvas for those who are comfortable with the idea.
While regular tattoos are made when a needle pierces the skin in order to leave pigment marks, dental tattoos are made in an entirely different way. In order to create a dental tattoo, a custom design is added to a dental crown prior to the crown being placed into the mouth. This is normally done by the same dental laboratory that manufactures the dental crown for the individual. The precise and complete procedure for installing a crown dental tattoo includes:
- Making a mold of the tooth over which the crown will be placed. This is a normal procedure for crown fabrication, as the crown itself needs to be custom-made in order to correctly fit the exact tooth it will cover.
- Sending the mold to a dental laboratory that can both fabricate the crown and apply the desired dental tattoo. Some dental laboratories may be absolutely expert in fabricating top-quality dental crowns, but do not also specialize in applying dental tattoos. It takes a highly skilled artist to carefully apply the miniature design to the crown and then seal it.
- Installing the crown. Your dentist will carefully install the crown onto the prepared tooth, making any necessary adjustments before cementing it into place.
Dental tattoos cannot be applied to healthy, natural teeth, but only to dental crowns, partly because they have to be heated at a very high temperature in order to cure upon the crown. Since dental crowns require irreversible tooth preparation (including removing some tooth enamel), it is not usual for an individual to obtain a dental crown for the sole purpose of having a dental tattoo. However, where an individual requires a dental crown in order to restore a damaged or decayed tooth, they do have the option of enhancing this crown with a dental tattoo.
In most cases, dental tattoos do not require any sort of specialized care, and they will not naturally wear off over time. In order to preserve their dental crown and dental tattoo, the individual must simply care for his crown in the same way he would if it were not tattooed, which means daily brushing and flossing and twice-yearly dental examinations and cleanings. That said, if the individual should tire of having a dental tattoo on a crowned tooth, he has two options: replacing the crown or having the outermost layers of the crown buffed down to eliminate the surface with the tattoo on it. Obviously the latter is the far faster, simpler and cost-effective solution, and can usually be done in a very small amount of time.
For more information about dental tattoos and whether they are an option for you, contact Dr. Saferin today.