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What is a Tooth Tattoo?

Diane Goettel
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A tooth tattoo is a relatively recent invention in cosmetic dentistry that is considered "dental bling." Much like a skin tattoo, a tooth tattoo is a permanent image that is added to the tooth. The difference with a tooth tattoo is that it is created on a crown that is then attached to the tooth by a dentist. Also, if a person decides to have a tooth tattoo removed, the process is much easier and less painful than the process of having a skin tattoo removed or covered up. There are a number of companies that specialize in creating tooth tattoos, a process that requires great skill as the space on the front of a tooth is so limited.

In most cases, people who decide to get a tooth tattoo have the tattoo installed on the front side of the tooth so that it is visible. Sometimes people have these kinds of tattoos installed on the teeth towards the back of the mouth. In these cases, it is most common to have the tooth tattoo installed on the side of the tooth that faces the outer mouth. In some rare cases, a tooth tattoo is installed on the lingual side of the tooth, which is the side that faces the tongue and the inside of the mouth. Just as with skin tattoos, the visibility of a tooth tattoo has everything to do with placement choice.

The limited amount of space on a tooth restricts the kinds of designs that can be incorporated into the tattoo. In most cases, this kind of tattoo is rather simple, including just one symbol such as a sun, a heart, or an initial. Skilled tooth artists, however, can create tattoos of more intricate symbols such as butterflies. There are also cases in which a person's face can be rendered into a tooth tattoo. This kind of work takes the greatest skill and the most precision.

Those who are interested in having a tattoo added to one of their teeth must consult with a dentist before ordering the artwork. In order to have the tattoo created on a crown, the dentist will have to make an impression of the tooth that will then be used by the person creating the tattoo. Dentists usually install crowns on teeth to treat damage or decay. When installed a tooth tattoo, however, the crown may be placed over a tooth that is perfectly healthy.

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Diane Goettel
By Diane Goettel
"Diane Goettel has a BA from Sarah Lawrence College and an MA in English from Brooklyn College. Diane lives in Mount Vernon, New York with her husband, Noah. They are the proud parents of a Doberman Pinscher named Spoon. Specialties: book editing, book marketing, book publishing, freelance writing, magazine publishing, magazine writing, copywriting,"
Discussion Comments
By golf07 — On Aug 07, 2011

I have not seen anyone with a tooth tattoo, but if I ever do, at least I will know what to expect. I think it would make people think you had something on your tooth that needed to be removed instead of something that you choose to put there.

It is easier to understand why someone would have one in the back of their mouth as means of identification, but even then, I don't think I would go to that trouble or expense.

By bagley79 — On Aug 06, 2011

I have never heard of a tooth tattoo before, but am not surprised by it. I can't imagine spending the money to have a tooth tattoo put on a crown - especially if it was put over a tooth that was healthy.

I always cringe when the dentist tells me I have to have a crown put on one of my teeth. It seems ridiculous to me that someone would actually want to have this done.

We don't have dental insurance, so all of our cost is out of pocket, but even still I would want not want to go through that process if it was not necessary.

By animegal — On Aug 05, 2011

My friend actually had a tooth tattoo done on her back molar, but interestingly it was done as an identifying mark before she went on a worldwide voyage. My friend has always been a bit morbid and just wanted to make sure that she would have an easily identifiable mark in case something really bad happened to her.

We all thought our friend was really weird for having a tattoo done for this reason but I guess in an odd way it made sense. Body tattoos are often used to identify people who have gone missing, so why not teeth tattoos? I actually think this could be a great thing for pets.

By letshearit — On Aug 05, 2011

I really don't understand why anyone would want a tooth tattoo. If you look at images of those with them it looks like they have something dirty on their teeth. Tooth tattoos are so small that it is difficult to tell what the tattoo is of unless you are up close and staring right into a mouth.

One of the worst things I have seen as far as tooth tattoos are portraits of people placed on the caps. I was really shocked that anyone would want to have this kind of image in their mouth. I can somewhat understand a tattoo dedicated to a loved one, but their portrait on your molar?

By CaithnessCC — On Aug 04, 2011

I'm curious about this topic as it was mentioned at work the other day. Someone said they are planning to have a picture of Elvis Presley tattoed onto their tooth!

Personally I wouldn't want to have a healthy tooth worked on for any reason, but then I'm the type who avoids the dentist at the best of times!

By MissMuffet — On Aug 04, 2011

I can see that there'd be a market for this kind of thing. Each to his or her own, is what I say. I think it sounds a whole lot better than navel or eyebrow piercings.

The one problem I can see is that the person with the tooth tattoo is going to look like they've not cleaned their teeth!

It would get tiresome real quick to have people making fidgety signs, as they try to make you aware of the spinach they think is stuck in there!

By JessicaLynn — On Aug 03, 2011

@Monika - I don't think there is anything wrong with these tooth tattoos. A friend of mine has a little diamond embedded in one of her teeth and I think it look quite unique.

And actually, I think uniqueness is probably the reason this trend started. At this point, regular tattoos and piercings are so common. I remember when getting say, you navel pierced was kind of scandalous. Now it seems everyone has that done!

People are always looking to do stuff that is "cool" and "not mainstream." Tooth tattoos are just another way people are trying to be individual.

By Monika — On Aug 03, 2011

I think "tooth bling" is a really dumb idea. Most of the time it just looks ridiculous!

I've never seen anyone with a tooth tattoo yet, but I'm sure it's bound to happen. I have seen grills as well as gold teeth though. I really don't get it.

I do think it's good that at least these tooth tattoos are basically semi-permanent. A person could have the crown removed at any time and bring there mouth back to normal!

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel
"Diane Goettel has a BA from Sarah Lawrence College and an MA in English from Brooklyn College. Diane lives in Mount...
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