Tattoo Those Teeth

Even after the traces of our flesh have been erased by history, our teeth remain.The teeth of our ancestors are buried in African rock, being dug up by archaeologists and linked to sex, age, body shape, and diet.You may have thought your identity had already been sealed, just because you've pierced your forehead, tattooed your tush, and smoked heroin with rock stars. But maybe you'd like to surprise your descendants when they dig up your dry bones and set them on display in the museum of the 24th century. Have you thought about tattooing your teeth?For as little as $25 and a new crown or bridge, you can be the first on the block (hopefully) to have teeth "tattoos."Tooth "tattooing" involves painting crowns (no needles make this label a misnomer) and then firing them in a porcelain oven at 1700 degrees (which is why you can't do it with your permanent teeth).Secret societies get their secret symbols, fishers get trout, golfers get greens, lovers get hearts (with or without arrows), and gangsters get smoking guns. Others get flies, ducks, lips, palm trees, or teddy bears. It is possible, if you have successive crowns, to have a mural scene. Written material is also an option. Fleshtones, regrettably, are hard to recreate (no Marilyn Monroe's)."Most tattoos are never seen since they are on molars," says Utah "tattooer" Amy Robbins, who paints her "tattoos" on with cat whiskers and teensy brushes. Her masterpiece of tooth tattooery is a speckled brown trout, which cost her client about $125. Most take about a day to do. And since they are rarely seen we have no idea which corporate executives, car repairmen, or suburban mothers have "tattoos" lurking in the dark reaches of their mouths. The paint goes on after the dentist makes the crown impression and the dental lab makes the crown. Most tattoos take two or three coats of paint, with an eight minute firing between each coat. The result is glossy and very detailed. The paint, which is the same paint that is used to stain crowns, will last the life of the crown, without fading or scratching.Any dentist should be able to work with a lab to customize your crowns and bridges. Amy Robbins works through Findlay Lab in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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