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Updated on September 21, 2022

Teeth Contouring - Procedure, Pros, Cons & Costs

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What is Teeth Contouring (Reshaping)? 

Teeth contouring (reshaping) is a simple procedure where a dentist removes tooth enamel to change the shape of a tooth or multiple teeth. This procedure is a low-cost alternative to other dental treatments.

girl smiling with perfect smile and white teeth at a park

How Does Teeth Reshaping Work?

Teeth reshaping is often an easy, quick, and painless procedure where dentists use different tools to contour the teeth.

Teeth reshaping procedures won't fix severe cases of overlapped or crooked teeth. However, they can reshape and smooth slightly uneven teeth. 

Preparation

Before starting this cosmetic procedure, a dentist will examine your enamel and gums to ensure they are healthy.

They may suggest another cosmetic dentistry procedure if your enamel is too thin or weak. Dental veneers are a common alternative for tooth enamel that is too weak for contouring.

Dental veneers are porcelain shells that cover the front teeth surfaces. Veneers improve the appearance of misshaped teeth by masking defects in these teeth.2

Procedure Steps

After preparation, a dentist will take the following steps to reshape your teeth:

1. Teeth Marking

After your initial examination, the dentist may mark your teeth with an intraoral indelible pen, pencil, or digital system. They may focus on problematic areas with stains, cracks, or uneven edges. 

During this step, you and the dentist will discuss your procedure goals to ensure you get optimal results.

2. Teeth Contouring/Shaping

Once the dentist marks your teeth, they will begin reshaping. 

Dentists use tools like a sanding disc or fine diamond bur to eliminate imperfections. These buffing tools also help remove surface-level stains. 

Next, they might shorten longer teeth, smooth jagged edges, or shape uneven teeth. 

3. Bonding (optional)

Bonding may be necessary if you need more extensive reshaping for chipped teeth or large gaps. 

Bonding uses a putty-like, tooth-colored resin to further shape teeth after contouring. When applied, the bonding material hardens to match the color of your teeth.

Bonding typically increases procedure costs. 

Recovery & Aftercare

Teeth reshaping is often quick and harmless. It takes about 10 minutes, depending on how many teeth your dentist reshapes.

Recovery from tooth reshaping usually doesn’t require much care. However, sometimes people feel enamel sensitivity after the procedure.

Unlike basic reshaping, bonding requires more aftercare. Although the bonding agent will quickly harden onto your tooth, it can still crack or chip in the future. 

After a bonding treatment, avoid eating hard foods, chewing gum or sticky foods, and biting your nails. Smoking or eating dark foods like blueberries, leafy green vegetables, and dark chocolate, or drinking tea, coffee, and soda, can stain around the bonding. 

After teeth reshaping, continue to:

  • Floss at least once every day
  • Visit the dentist twice a year
  • Brush teeth twice a day

How Much Does Teeth Contouring Cost?

Insurance generally does not cover cosmetic contouring or other cosmetic dental treatments. However, insurance might partially or fully cover the procedure if your tooth broke because of an accident.

Most teeth contouring procedures are cheaper than orthodontic work, but the price varies by person. 

On average, expect to pay about $50 to $300 per tooth.3 Price may increase if you need tooth bonding.

Is Teeth Contouring Right for You? 

Teeth contouring isn’t suitable for everyone, but it can be a cost-effective alternative to other dental work. 

Before the procedure, ask your dentist about the benefits, side effects, and risks.

Benefits

The benefits of tooth reshaping include:

Simple Procedure

Dental contouring is quick and painless. Expect to be out of the dentist’s chair in about 10 minutes if no other procedures, such as bonding, occur at the same visit.

Cost-Effective

Compared to other orthodontic procedures, dental contouring is much cheaper. Braces can cost upwards of $7,000, making them more expensive.

Deciding to reshape teeth rather than getting braces or Invisalign can save you thousands of dollars.

Painless

Most people do not feel any discomfort during the procedure. Anesthesia is unnecessary. 

Improves Oral Hygiene

Removing overlaps and chips on the teeth can reduce plaque build-up. This ultimately reduces the risk of developing cavities or gum disease.

Side Effects & Risks

Common side effects and risks of teeth reshaping include:

Tooth Sensitivity

Sometimes, removing too much enamel from teeth can cause sensitivity.

Tooth Fracture 

The thinned-out enamel can fracture or chip more easily if the dentist removes too much enamel. 

Incompatibility with Complex Issues

Dental contouring will not fix complex dental issues, including prominent overlapping teeth or severe tooth decay. Teeth reshaping is best for minor cosmetic issues on generally healthy teeth.

Alternatives

There are several alternatives to teeth contouring:

Braces

Braces are best for severely overlapping and crooked teeth that Invisalign or other more conservative treatments cannot correct. 

Veneers

Veneers are thin porcelain shells that bond to your teeth after enamel removal. 

Invisalign

Invisalign is similar to braces, as they straighten teeth. Though braces can treat severe tooth misalignments, Invisalign works best for minor overlapping or gaps between teeth.

Summary

Dental contouring is a low-cost, painless alternative to more extensive and expensive orthodontic and dental procedures. 

A cosmetic dentist can use this procedure to fix jagged teeth edges, remove stains, and improve other minor cosmetic imperfections.

7 Sources Cited
Last updated on September 21, 2022
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1.  Maroulakos, Georgios, et al. “Dental Reshaping Using the Composite Resin Injection Technique After Dental Trauma and Orthodontic Treatment.” Journal of Dentistry for Children, 2021.
  2. Pini NP, et al. “Advances in dental veneers: materials, applications, and techniques.” Clin Cosmet Investig Dent, 2012.
  3. Colgate. “Teeth Reshaping Treatments and Costs”. www.colgate.com, 2022.
  4. Livas C, et al. “Enamel reduction techniques in orthodontics: a literature review.” Open Dent J., 2013.
  5. Sarah E Griffiths, et al. “Tooth reshaping as an integral part of orthodontic treatment.” Orthodontic Update, 2017. 
  6. Metrosmiles. “Dental Contouring and Tooth Reshaping for Subtle Changes.”
  7. Papadimitriou A, et al. “Clinical effectiveness of Invisalign® orthodontic treatment: a systematic review.” Prog Orthod., 2018.
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