Tooth Contouring and Reshaping

Cosmetic dentistry is an important part of overall dentistry. Sometimes little defects in teeth can attract more than their fair share of attention. The eye often seems drawn to the tiny chip in a front tooth; the slight mismatch in tooth size among adjacent teeth; or the extra-pointy canine. In these cases, parents may elect to have cosmetic dentistry performed on their children in order to improve their smile and overall appearance. Some procedures can even improve oral problems, such as a bite. Contouring and reshaping is a procedure used to correct crooked teeth, chipped teeth, cracked teeth or even overlapping teeth.

What does tooth contouring/reshaping involve?

To determine if your child is an appropriate candidate for tooth contouring, or reshaping, your dentist may first take an x-ray of their teeth to determine the size and location of the tooth's pulp (the center of the tooth that contains the nerves and blood vessels). Tooth contouring involves removing a tiny amount of tooth enamel with a drill to sculpt a more pleasing shape and make the tooth fit in better with its neighbors. The tooth is then polished for a smooth finish. The procedure is most often used on the upper front incisors and canines, which are your most visible teeth. However, if the tooth's enamel layer is too thin or if the pulp lies too close to the tooth's surface, this procedure may not be possible and another procedure - such as bonding or veneers could be considered instead. Once it is determined that your child is an appropriate candidate for tooth contouring, 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 contouring does not affect the pulp of the tooth, an anesthetic is not usually needed.

What risks are associated with tooth contouring/reshaping?

Because enamel cannot be replaced, contouring/reshaping should be carefully considered. Therefore, an open dialogue with your dentist is highly recommended. The only risk involves the thickness of the enamel. If the enamel of the tooth that has been contoured becomes too thin or exposes the dentin layer (the layer beneath the enamel), tooth sensitivity to heat, cold, and sweets could result. Also, be aware that during the procedure, your child will feel some vibration as their tooth is gently sculpted, and then polished smooth. Reshaping one tooth usually takes less than half an hour — and the results will be quite obvious at the end of the procedure! Sometimes, reshaped teeth can be a little sensitive to hot or cold after the procedure, but this should last no more than a day or two.

Have questions? Here at Children First Dental, we are happy to hear from you! Schedule your next visit today!

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