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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.
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.
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
After preparation, a dentist will take the following steps to reshape your teeth:
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
The benefits of tooth reshaping include:
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.
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.
Most people do not feel any discomfort during the procedure. Anesthesia is unnecessary.
Removing overlaps and chips on the teeth can reduce plaque build-up. This ultimately reduces the risk of developing cavities or gum disease.
Common side effects and risks of teeth reshaping include:
Sometimes, removing too much enamel from teeth can cause sensitivity.
The thinned-out enamel can fracture or chip more easily if the dentist removes too much enamel.
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.
There are several alternatives to teeth contouring:
Braces are best for severely overlapping and crooked teeth that Invisalign or other more conservative treatments cannot correct.
Veneers are thin porcelain shells that bond to your teeth after enamel removal.
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.
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.
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