Ohaguro-Teeth Blackening Tradition

Professional Restorative Dentistry in Tempe, AZ

At Tempe Smiles Family Dental, patients throughout Tempe, AZ and the surrounding areas can receive professional restorative dentistry services. Our full-service dental office is dedicated to utilizing contemporary clinical techniques and modern technology. Our valued patients can rest assured they will receive nothing less than the best dental care at our state-of-the-art facility. In addition to restorative dentistry services, our knowledgeable and experienced dentists provide preventative and cosmetic dentistry as well. Whatever your dental needs are, we’re the team for the job.

What is Ohaguro?

One of the more unique tooth traditions in the history of the world comes from Asia, where members of tribes in Japan, Vietnam, and other parts of Southeast Asia, partake in the ritual of blackening their teeth. Called Ohaguro, it is a custom of dyeing the teeth black, and it has been around since prehistoric times. Ohaguro simply means to blacken the teeth. It’s an old custom prevalent centuries ago among most married Japanese women, members of the aristocratic class, and samurai. It was considered a status symbol to have blackened teeth.

The traditional method used involved soaking iron fillings in tea or sake. The liquid would turn black when the iron oxidated. Practitioners would then add spices like cinnamon, cloves, and anise to reduce the harsh taste of the dye. In other parts of Asia, people used coconut husks to obtain the dark dye. When burned, it forms a black sticky char that is combined with nail filings and applied to the teeth. The Vietnamese used a red resin derived from the secretions of a tiny insect that sucks the sap of a tree.

historic photo of blackened teeth

Ohaguro is Comparable to Modern Sealants

In 1870, the Japanese government outlawed the practice of Ohaguro, but it can still be seen in theatrical plays and movies. These days, the actors use ink and tooth wax to achieve the look. The practice can still be found in other areas of Southeast Asia among traditional tribes. Strange as this practice may sound, it proved to be somewhat useful in tooth decay. Working very much like modern dental sealants, the material used in Vietnam and Laos to stain teeth was found to inhibit the growth of the bacteria that produce acids that cause tooth decay. While styles and customs often change, strong, healthy teeth will always be in style. If you’re not particularly interested in blackening your teeth to prevent cavities, you can still brush and floss regularly, and if you are prone to cavities, talk to us about dental sealants.

Our Professional Restorative Dentistry Services

At Temple Smiles Family Dental, Tempe residents will find a wide range of premier restorative dentistry services to meet their unique needs. These services include dental implants, dentures, all-on-4 dentures, crowns and bridges, root canals, all-on-4 implants, and more. Below, we’ve gone into detail about each of the restorative dentistry services we offer patients throughout Tempe and the surrounding areas:

  • Dental Implants – A dental implant is an artificial tooth with an artificial tooth root that is fused into the jawbone, creating a permanent solution for missing or broken teeth. Dental implants are nearly identical replacements to a patient’s natural teeth.
  • Dentures – Dentures are a widely common prosthetic designed to replace missing teeth lost to age, decay, or other means. Our experienced team will help you find the perfect fit.
  • All-On-4 Dentures – These dentures offer a unique alternative to replacing missing teeth. Rather than getting individual implants, you can opt for all-on-4 dentures to replace your upper or lower teeth, using just four implants per arch.
  • Crowns & Bridges – A dental bridge consists of two crowns for the two teeth on both sides of the opening. These teeth are called abutment teeth, and artificial teeth called pontics are placed in the middle. These crowns and teeth are made as one solid piece.
  • Root Canals – This common dental procedure repairs infected teeth or those that have experienced blunt trauma. Gradual decay will inevitably damage the sensitive pulp deep within your tooth, making a root canal procedure necessary to save the affected tooth.
  • All-On-4 Implants – Implants can serve as a replacement for your natural teeth if you have lost teeth due to periodontal disease or an accident. In more extreme cases, patients may be missing a row of teeth. In cases like this, it is not necessary to have individual implants. Teeth can be replaced using all-on-4 dental implants in a minimally-invasive procedure.

Contact Us Today About Restorative Dentistry Services

Whether you need tooth-colored fillings, partial dentures, a porcelain crown, or fixed bridge dental services, the Tempe Smiles Family Dental team has you covered. We have years of experience providing our patients with comprehensive restorative dentistry services. To learn more about the restorative dentistry services we offer or to schedule an appointment at our Tempe office, contact us today.