Temporary tooth tattoos are the latest trend in body decoration. The trend moves on from the tooth gem craze and introduces tiny, temporary tattoos for the teeth.
As with so many of these things, this idea originated in Japan. Japanese girls wear the trend by coordinating the little images stuck on to their teeth with their nail art, to create a cute, matching effect. Some men are even getting in on the trend, though probably not with a matching manicure.
The first well publicized Western appearance of the fad was when a male plumber in England had tiny pictures of Kate Middleton and Prince William (now the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge) tattooed onto his teeth temporarily in celebration of their wedding.
Apparently, the procedure has existed for around ten years, but has only recently come into fashion in Japan, and like so many other quirky Japanese trends, there is every chance it will spread.
So, what sort of designs are people going for? Well, with similar limitations as nail art and transfers in terms of size, simple designs in bold colors are the most popular. A black design, unless seen close up, could just look like tooth decay, and that is never a cool look!
Popular designs include heart and diamond playing card style shapes, shooting stars, ladybugs, butterflies and rainbows, though because the decals are printed there is effectively no limit, other than size, to what you could have.
Some salons are already doing tiny portraits of iconic stars like Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, and even the Queen of England to go on teeth, as well as little pictures of colorful animals. Cartoon characters and the logos of brands like Harley Davidson have also started to make appearances on the teeth of people jumping on this new trend.
These temporary tattoos are glued on to the teeth using a special water resistant adhesive which fixes to the tooth enamel. This glue needs to be strong, to withstand eating and brushing, though you will need to be gentle with the tattoo when you are cleaning your teeth if you have one. The process of applying the tattoo takes less than 20 minutes, and is pain free.
Many people choose to have their teeth whitened, either in a salon or at a cosmetic dentists, or by using one of the many at home tooth whitening kits, prior to having the tattoos stuck on, to make the tattoos stand out more and simply because having the tattoo will draw attention to their teeth.
At the moment, a temporary tooth tattoo need to be applied professionally. There aren't any kits available to do it at home yourself, in the style of those nail art kits you can now find in almost any drug store or beauty counter.
Whether this is because the trend isn't popular enough yet for these to have started to be manufactured and sold or whether it is because the glue is not safe to use without proper training, we will find out if the trend catches on.
They only lasts for a few days. This is because the glue that fixes them on will weaken from generally being in your mouth and from the abrasion caused by eating and brushing.
Think of it as having a similar lifespan to nail art, which when applied to natural nails only looks pristine for about three days (this can be much longer on acrylic nails, but you can't get acrylic teeth!).
This is another reason why a lot of Japanese girls find it makes sense to get their nails and tooth art done together for a special party or other occasion when they want to make a statement.
Because the temporary tooth tattoo is bonded firmly to the tooth enamel and is completely flat, it shouldn't in theory, allow food to get trapped. It is better for the longevity of your temporary tooth tattoo to try and chew on the other side of your mouth and not eat anything that will scratch away at the tattoo too much though.
Temporary tooth tattoos, and the glue used to apply them, are non toxic and shouldn't damage the tooth enamel. The process was actually invented by dentists, and therefore shouldn't harm your teeth.
Some dentists are concerned that plaque can build up around a tooth tattoo, which can of course lead to decay.
This shouldn't present too much of a problem as you would only have the tattoo in place for a couple of days, but because of this it is advisable, if you wear temporary tooth tattoos often, to vary the tooth you have them applied to so that one tooth isn't at risk of this additional plaque all the time.
It is possible that regular use of temporary tooth tattoos could lead to some discoloration of the tooth's surface, but this can be easily rectified with a home tooth whitening kit.
It is highly likely, due to the popularity of other mouth decoration such as tooth gems and "grills" that the Japanese trend for temporary tooth tattoos will catch on in the USA and elsewhere in the world.
It is a trend that is easy and relatively inexpensive to have done, and it doesn't last too long so unlike other body decoration or modification like a tattoo, piercing or gold tooth, you don't have to make a commitment to the fashion or to one particular design.
There is already quite a lot of buzz around temporary tooth tattoos and it is probably only a matter of time before we start to see celebrities flashing their own tooth decals, and that always gives a new trend the boost it needs to go mainstream.
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