Straightening and whitening your teeth can transform your smile, but sometimes, it takes one final step to get those pearly whites looking perfect. It’s called tooth reshaping (or dental contouring), and the good news is, it’s a quick, painless and cost-effective cosmetic procedure. If a chipped, pointed, overlapping or uneven tooth stands between you and the smile you’ve always wanted, find out why tooth reshaping may be the answer you’ve been looking for.
What Is Tooth Reshaping?
Tooth reshaping is an in-office dental procedure that typically involves the removal of enamel to even out the surface of a tooth. Using a headpiece, the dentist sculpts and/or polishes off rough or pointed edges, and can even trim down the length of a tooth if it appears larger than its neighbors. Usually, anesthesia is not required, unless work is close to the root of the tooth.
If the problem is a chipped tooth, or a tooth that appears smaller than its counterparts, reshaping involves the addition of an enamel-like resin in a similarly straightforward procedure called “bonding”. Holes and gaps are sealed by polishing the substance onto the surface of the tooth, or in some cases, the resin may be shaped to match the size of neighboring teeth in advance, and then applied to the problem tooth. Your dentist may recommend wearing a night guard to protect your teeth and prevent future recurrent damage.
Why Get Tooth Reshaping
The cosmetic reason for tooth reshaping may be obvious, but contouring your teeth could also provide additional oral health benefits, such as:
- Improved bite: Evening out the teeth can help aid chewing and speech
- Less risk of future damage: Cracks, holes and gaps are fixed before they grow worse
- Lowered risk for tooth decay and gum disease: Even surfaces are easier to clean
- Less irritation: Pointed teeth can aggravate the inner lining of the mouth
In certain cases, tooth reshaping may even save patients the cost of orthodontic treatment, if misalignment is due to something minor such as overlapping teeth.
While tooth reshaping is a simple, straightforward process, it is not for everybody. Here are some important things to know if you’re considering this cosmetic procedure:
- There is a risk for damage and tooth sensitivity, if too much enamel is removed
- It may not be recommended for those with root canals, tooth decay or gum disease
- The results are subtle, and more work may be advised to improve your smile
Getting teeth contoured and/or bonded does not preclude additional cosmetic procedures or restorative dental work, but it’s best to consult with your dentist about all of your dental goals beforehand to help ensure an efficient treatment plan.
More Ways Your Dentist Can Help
In addition to determining whether it is tooth reshaping, other cosmetic work, or a combination of treatments that will really help your smile, your dentist may be able to suggest ways to prevent future problems by addressing potential pitfalls that may have caused issues in the first place. More often than not, frequent dental visits and better hygiene can help you avoid unnecessary wear and tear on the teeth. Schedule a consultation with your dentist to go over both preventative and corrective courses of action to achieve your dental goals.
Jaret, Peter. (2012). Make thee Most of Your Mouth. Retrieved July 14, 2015, from http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/healthy-mouth-14/beautiful-smile/enamel-shaping-facts
Sellers, Jennifer. (2011, Oct. 16). Can big teeth be shaved down? Retrieved July 16, 2015, from http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/oral-care/procedures/can-big-teeth-be-shaved-down1.htm
Sheehan, Jan. (2009, August 19). Tooth Reshaping and Dental Contouring. Retrieved July 21, 2015, http://www.everydayhealth.com/dental-health/cosmetic-dentistry/tooth-reshaping.aspx