Is there a small defect in your smile that always draws your eye in the mirror? A chip in a front tooth, some worn edges, or shallow pits or grooves in the tooth enamel are all minor issues, but they do stand in the way of having a perfect smile. If you suffer from one or more of these problems — even to the extent of a minor fracture or overlap… they all can be fixed using a procedure known as tooth contouring and reshaping.

Using a polishing instrument, the dentist removes small amounts of surface enamel of one or more teeth to compensate for the imperfections. Followed up with a smoothing and polishing of all the surrounding teeth, this quick, painless, and inexpensive procedure can make a big difference in your smile. Because it is relatively inexpensive and noninvasive, it is a good place to start changing your smile to the one that you have always wanted, but Mother Nature failed to give you.

What are the benefits of tooth contouring?

The goal of tooth contouring and reshaping is to change the size or shape of the teeth so that slightly damaged or out of proportion teeth are brought back into alignment with the rest. In essence a cosmetic procedure, it is most often performed on the upper central, lateral, and canine teeth. Beyond the outward benefits, there are often oral health gains, too, as smoothing the teeth and repairing overlaps can make them easier to clean, reducing the risk of The primary consideration for the suitability of cavities and gum disease. Reshaping can also be used to correct minor problems with bite and function.

What will happen at the initial consultation?

At the initial consultation, the dentist will examine your teeth and determine whether the defects that are present in your smile are sufficiently minor to be corrected using contouring and reshaping. He will also x-ray the teeth to make sure that they are healthy enough to undergo removal of a small amount of the surface enamel.

How is the tooth contouring procedure performed?

Tooth contouring and reshaping takes place generally in one visit to the dentist’s office, although a follow-up visit is sometimes necessary. Often the dentist will take a “before” photograph to use as a reference. Then, using various tools, the dentist carefully polishes off small areas of the tooth surface enamel and reforms the tooth into a more attractive shape. The edges of the newly shaped tooth are smoothed and polished, completing the procedure. An “after” photograph is made at this point so the differences can be easily seen. After contouring, the teeth are more uniform in shape and size making them appears less crowded and eye-catching imperfections are gone. The length of the procedure is dependent on the amount of changes that are being made to the teeth, but can run from under 30 minutes to over an hour.

How much pain is there with tooth contouring?

Because only surface enamel is removed, there is no pain involved with the procedure, so no anesthetic is administered. Occasionally, there is minor sensitivity to hot and cold for a day or two after the procedure, but this irritation is minor and almost uniformly disappear a short time after the procedure. Recovery for almost every patient undergoing tooth contouring or reshaping is instantaneous. You can generally eat immediately after the procedure. The removal of the small amount of enamel does not hurt the tooth nor is it replaced, so no healing is involved.

Ideal Candidate:

An ideal candidate would have minor imperfections in their teeth such as small chips, minor unevenness, slight overlaps, shallowly pitted surfaces, or worn biting areas in their teeth. Other indications for the procedure are one or more teeth out of proportion in size to the rest of the set, such as large, pointy canine teeth. Note that reshaping can only occur on healthy teeth, so x-rays are often taken before the procedure is done to check for problems.

Some characteristics of the teeth that might preclude reshaping are: thin enamel, previous extensive restorations of the tooth or surrounding teeth, recently erupted teeth, teeth having gum structure that would be disturbed by the procedure, or teeth that are still shifting. Some contouring is not recommended if it will adversely affect the patient’s bite.

Risks and Limitations:

The risks involved in the procedure include the removal of too much enamel, subjecting the tooth to a greater chance of breakage or decay, or reappearance of the problem if it is due to grinding of the teeth. However, seeing an experienced cosmetic dentist virtually eliminates these risks.