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Dental Health and Recontouring Teeth

Recontouring or reshaping the teeth (also called odontoplasty, enameloplasty, stripping, or slenderizing) is a procedure in which small amounts of tooth enamel are removed to change a tooth's length, shape, or surface. The procedure is usually done to improve appearance by creating more harmony or balance in the look of the smile.

Recontouring is the most conservative cosmetic treatment. It is a quick and painless procedure whose results can be seen immediately.

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Who Should Consider Recontouring?

Recontouring is an effective method to correct minor imperfections, such as:

  1. Fixing small chips
  2. Smoothing out bulges or pits in a tooth's enamel
  3. Adjusting slight irregular tooth shapes caused by too many or uneven teeth
  4. Adjusting the length of the canines (the pointed teeth on the side of your mouth)

Recontouring can also improve overall dental health by removing crevices or overlaps between teeth in which plaque or tartar can accumulate.

Recontouring is not recommended if your teeth have substantial imperfections, such as a substantial chip or deep fracture. Recontouring is not a substitute for veneers or bonding; however, it is often used in combination with these procedures.

Talk to your doctor to see if recontouring is right for you.

What Does Recontouring Involve?

Initial exam

To determine if you are an appropriate candidate for recontouring, your dentist may first take an X-ray of your teeth to determine the size and location of the tooth's pulp (the center of the tooth that contains the nerves and blood vessels). If the tooth's enamel layer is too thin or if the pulp lies too close to the tooth's surface, recontouring may not be possible and another procedure – such as bonding or veneers – might need to be considered instead.

The procedure

At your appointment, your dentist will use a sanding disc or a fine diamond bur to remove small amounts of tooth enamel. To reach imperfections between teeth, your dentist may use a strip of sandpaper to shape and smooth the sides. Once shaped, your dentist will finish the process by polishing your tooth or teeth.

Since recontouring does not affect the pulp of the tooth, an anesthetic is not usually needed.

Follow up

A recontouring procedure that is not combined with other cosmetic procedures (such as bonding or veneer placement) does not require special care or follow-up.

What Risks Are Associated With Teeth Recontouring?

Because enamel cannot be replaced, recontouring should be carefully considered. The only risk involves the thickness of the enamel. If the enamel of the tooth that has been recontoured becomes too thin or exposes the dentin layer (the layer beneath the enamel), tooth sensitivity to heat, cold, and sweets could result.


 

 

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Michael Friedman, DDS on May 22, 2014
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How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

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Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

SOURCES:

American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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