Tattoos and gems on the teeth are the new trend: here’s what the experts say

Loved by several VIPs, they promise to spread in a low-cost ‘do-it-yourself trip’ version. The dentist: “I worry about more damage from piercings”

Exaggerated to cover the whole smile like those of the rapper Jaden Smith (son of the actor Will Smith), for millionaires like those of the American star Post Malone, iconic like those of the NBA champion Lebron James, more discreet and temporary like those loved by the celebrities of the K-pop, but also by pop stars like Dua Lipa and Billie Eilish. Whether they are gems or tattoos, the trend of decorating teeth is catching on: invades the web and social media, from TikTok to Instagram, where images of mouths with drawings that range from simple smiley faces, stars, fruit, various and infinite symbols and rainbows, up to actual pictorial works, but also small sculptures, jewellery, diamonds and colored stones.

What are ‘tattooths

It’s a trend that infects VIPs, who choose the most demanding options from an economic point of view, but now it promises to expand more than in the past with the debut of low-cost versions within the reach of every pocket: small sticker designs that work like transfers, they are activated by moistening them with a little water and they remain glued to the tooth for half a day or little more. The techniques for decorating teeth are different and more or less invasive. They range from the little drawing applied ‘do it yourself’ to the gems glued more firmly as is done with the plates of a fixed appliance, up to the dental caps decorated with permanent inks and the micro or larger incisions made directly on the tooth to set stones .

They know something about it in Japan, but also in Australia, the UK and the USA: thanks to the arrival of the versions that last an evening and away, ‘tattooths’ (from the fusion between tattoo and tooth) are becoming popular there. street. And gems are already a consolidated custom. Revival of a quirk of 80s rappers and hip hop artists (who however mostly used removable decorated grills for their teeth). The cost of this fashion? It can vary from a few tens of euros to hundreds (700-800 euros for capsules, 150-200 for glue applications), and thousands in the most extreme cases involving the use of precious metals and stones (Post Malone for l According to reports published online, the permanent insertion of 2 diamonds on the teeth would have cost 1.6 million dollars). And in Italy? “I must say that at a clinical level it has not yet occurred to me to have requests” for actual tattoos, explains Andrea Senna, president of the Commission for the Register of Dentistry (Cao) of Milan, to Adnkronos Salute. “And even the presidents of the Registry of the rest of Italy have not spoken to me in an important way about this phenomenon. At the moment I believe it is marginal. Even if there was a period, years ago, in which interest had grown in the wave of influencers who showed up with entire golden or decorated veneers”.

Even the pop star par excellence, Madonna, was a ‘testimonial’ of dental veneers with various types of decorations. And models like Iris Law (daughter of actor Jude Law) show them off, who even has a metal heart on her front teeth in some photos. Are these practices harmful? “There are mainly two systems – describes Senna – There are adhesive objects which obviously last less and are applied superficially with a kind of glue, almost with the same system with which the metal ‘brackets’ of fixed braces are attached” , and drying this glue with the use of a specific light. “If instead a hole is made to put “the jewel” deeper, then obviously the tooth is damaged. But if it is attached superficially the damage is practically non-existent, because when the decoration is removed or falls on its own, the part of the tooth is smoothed. excess cement and that was it.”

Piercings are more harmful

The choice to have a capsule with attached decoration applied could be more invasive, if the tooth is filed to insert it. If instead dyes were used to draw and color directly on the tooth, “if the enamel is healthy and not damaged – the specialist points out – it will hardly suffer any consequences; if it is intact, stains will hardly remain. It is not like on the skin where the tattoo can penetrate deeply.” For the expert, piercing is more harmful: “Whether it is placed on the tongue or in other areas of the oral cavity or on the lip – warns Senna – it creates serious problems for the periodontium. Because in the long run this metal that hits the gum causes serious damage”. Piercings, “affecting the area of ​​the lower incisors in the long run, hurt. The damage they can leave should be better understood. Not only the enamel, which perhaps resists longer, is ruined, but also the gum” which in fact appears to be the most tortured part. “Even serious recessions form and I have seen many of them.”

However, the trend of ‘transferring’ does not worry the dentist, as do all those procedures that do not require the use of the cutter to affect the teeth. The practice of decorating the smile has its roots in antiquity. Scientific studies have investigated, for example, the dental skills of the Maya, who used to seal precious stones and glass slides, or small condoms made of gold and crystals on their teeth.

Today in the age of body art there is no corner of the body that is left out. “I have also seen tattoos, writings and drawings imprinted on the mucous membranes of the mouth – reports Senna – For example, I happened to move the lower lip” of some patients “and see the name of the girlfriend tattooed on it. Beyond the risk of regret, the effects or any problems that could arise are those of the classic tattoo”. To boys, concludes the expert, “if I had to issue a warning, I would say to avoid piercings in particular. Because while other decorations can be removed without harm when one gets bored, this in any position creates serious damage to the anatomy of the mouth, problems to be solved”.