Tooth contouring and reshaping is a procedure that can be used as an alternative to braces (in some cases) to correct problems with crowded teeth, chipped, cracked or crooked teeth, or overlapping teeth. It is a painless process that can usually be completed in one or two dental visits, which gives it considerable cost and lifestyle advantages over braces or other procedures.
The procedure involves either removing small amounts of the tooth enamel or adding equally small amounts of a tooth-colored laminate to change the shape, position, or length of your teeth, and thus achieve a more pleasing smile. Chipped or cracked areas are fixed, and misalignments are subtly corrected. At the same time, the contouring or reshaping procedures can improve your overall dental health by proactively dealing with conditions of overcrowded or misaligned teeth and providing a better bite, thus avoiding more serious problems later in life.
The advantages of tooth contouring and reshaping are obvious – a patient can have a more pleasing smile in a single dental visit, without having to wear braces, and at a fraction of the cost. In most cases the procedure is also completely painless, and thus requires no anesthetic, which is preferable for many people. One disadvantage of tooth contouring and reshaping is that small amounts of the tooth enamel often are removed, which could potentially weaken the tooth. So the procedure is often combined with the application of veneers or bonding to strengthen the treated teeth.
What can you expect if your teeth are contoured or reshaped?
The procedure starts with a consultation with your cosmetic dentist. Treatment options are discussed, and your dentist may even be able to show you what your teeth will look like after contouring using computer imaging. The dentist will take X-rays and examine both the pulp of the teeth and the bone underlying them to make sure they will support the process.
During the procedure itself, your dentist will lightly remove small amounts of the tooth using a polishing drill or a dental laser, and may use abrasive strips to shape the sides of the teeth. This is usually such a painless process that no local anesthetic is required. If application of veneers or bonding is required to fill cracks or eliminate gaps between the teeth, these are applied in layers. Finally, the contoured and reshaped teeth are polished and smoothed to look like your other teeth.