Washington State man creates tooth tattoos

Man paints on the personalized decorations by hand using a special type of paint.

KENNEWICK — David W. Roberts of Blue Crown Dental Arts in Kennewick, Wash., takes the concept of body art to a whole other level -- the micro level. Roberts is in the business of making dental crowns — caps that encircle a tooth or dental implant. He takes imprints provided by dentists, and with some high-tech machinery shapes ceramic, metal, and porcelain into facsimiles of teeth.

He uses photos to match the crown to just the right shade to match the wearer's other teeth. And for customers feeling a little more expressive or adventurous, Roberts will paint a favorite sports logo, a beloved pet or a meaningful symbol on the crown in painstaking and minuscule detail.

"My only requirement is that they give me a picture of what they want," he said. "Don't make me guess."

Roberts calls what he does "tooth tattooing," although there are no needles or pain involved for the person requesting the image -- at least not from the artwork.

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