Getting your body inked is passe. GenNext is going for dental tattoos, so don’t be surprised if the girl next door breaks into a toothy grin to show off an angel or a skull, depending on choice of design.

"The trend is fairly popular among urban Indians. In the last two-three years, dental tattoos have gained popularity especially as youth today are more savvy and adventurous than before", Heman Verma, orthodontist and implantologist, Dental Styler in Gurgaon, told IANS.

"College-goers and young professionals these days like to leave a distinct impression among their peer group by making a unique style statement. Dental tattooing offers them an option to do so."
Although the trend is relatively new in India, in the West it is a common phenomenon and has been in use for many years.

"Dental tattoos are not new; it started in the West about 8-10 years ago when hiphop singers and rappers started sporting them in their music videos and then youngsters started aping them. In India, it became popular in the last couple of years," said Mumbai-based Ranganatha Rao K. Jingade, a dental surgeon.

The age group that usually goes in for dental tattoo treatments is 14-35 years. Both girls and boys go for the procedure. Girls like to get stars, apples or angels while boys like to get more masculine designs like skulls or geometric patterns.

Animal shapes are also quite popular. Other designs that are usually preferred are of name initials, heart and arrow, musical symbols, bull, mickey mouse, arrow, sign of victory and lips.
Dental tattoos are of two types – temporary and permanent.

In case of temporary tattoos, designs are in the form of templates that are stuck on the teeth. Various kinds of designs are available. You can also get a custom-made design in a dental laboratory, which your dentist can then stick on your teeth. "Permanent tattoos are drilled on the teeth. Once done you cannot get them removed," explained Verma.

"While sticking a temporary tattoo takes just 15-20 minutes, drilling permanent tattoos can take hours depending on the design," Shikha Pahwa, a cosmetic dentist at Everbrite Dental Clinic in Chandigarh, told IANS.

"There are no side effects, but it depends on a person’s dental hygiene. If a person is lacking hygiene, then there could be cavities – but this can happen even without a tattoo."

Usually the preferred areas for dental tattoos are the upper lateral incisors, upper canine, premolars and molars. Although the procedures are not painful, it does burn a whole in your pocket.

"The dental tattoo procedures that we undertake costs anywhere between Rs.10,000 and Rs.15,000, depending on the design and detailing," added Pahwa.
However, if you don’t want an elaborate design, you might get lucky by paying a lesser amount.

"For a basic design one may be required to shell out Rs.800 and the cost increases as the design becomes more intricate and complex. It may reach up to Rs.15,000," said Verma.

In order to be a part of the latest fashion trend, many are willing to loosen their purse strings.

"I saw a dental tattoo for the first time recently when my friend got it done. Everyone gets a tattoo on the body but this is different. That’s why even I’m planning to get one very soon," said Monisha Rawat, a 19-year-old student.

"The best part is it’s not even painful, unlike body tattoos," she added.

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