There are many routine dental procedures patients typically experience annually. The most common elements of dental checkups include X-rays and a cleaning. However, what happens if there is a problem with the gums? Even the most diligent patient may sometimes miss the early warning signs of gum disease. In this case, the dentist may perform…
Ask a Dentist: What Is Enamel Shaping?
Plenty of people turn to cosmetic dentistry to change something unwanted about their smiles. While some patients choose more invasive or time-consuming methods of solving issues with teeth, many prefer to start with simpler methods. Enamel shaping is a possible solution for patients who want to make subtle changes to their teeth without a major procedure.
What is enamel shaping?
Enamel is the hard outer layer of each tooth. It protects the dentin, which is the softer inner layer. Enamel shaping is a form of cosmetic dentistry in which a dentist removes a very small amount of the enamel to change the shape of a tooth.
Of course, there are limits to what this procedure can do. Because excessive removal of enamel will lead to exposing the dentin, teeth cannot be dramatically reshaped. However, small adjustments are possible, and the procedure is painless. To shape enamel, a patient’s dentist uses the same tools that are used in routine cleaning.
In some cases, enamel shaping is done as a procedure by itself. However, this type of cosmetic dentistry just involves sanding down and removing enamel; it cannot add more material to reshape the tooth. This is why shaping is sometimes done along with a procedure called bonding. Bonding involves applying a specialized resin that looks a lot like natural enamel. For patients who have damaged or chipped teeth, bonding may need to be done alongside enamel shaping in order to completely restore a smile.
What types of issues can enamel shaping fix?
For patients who wish to fix cosmetic issues, it is important to consult with a dentist to ensure that enamel shaping is the right type of cosmetic dentistry to use. That said, the technique can be used to remedy a variety of issues.
Rough enamel spots
Uneven or rough enamel may not seem like a major issue. However, depending on where on the tooth it is located, rough enamel spots may cause tongue irritation over time. With enamel shaping, these rough patches can be smoothed over.
Sometimes, dental patients are insecure about the front teeth appearing uneven. This can happen because one of the teeth gets chipped, but it also can just be due to natural variation in tooth shapes. With enamel shaping, the slightly larger of the two front teeth can be filed down to match the smaller one.
Severely crowded teeth usually need to be corrected using braces or clear aligners. However, with mild crowding, enamel shaping may be all a patient needs to eliminate overlap between teeth. Overlapping teeth may predispose patients to cavities, as they make it harder to thoroughly clean the teeth.
If you are considering pursuing cosmetic dentistry, enamel shaping is a quick and relatively easy way to improve your smile. Patients who could benefit from this procedure may want to schedule an appointment with a dentist to discuss the options.
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