What Is Enamel Contouring?


Enamel Contouring

Don't let the name fool you. While it might conjure up visions of serious surgery, the truth is quite the opposite. Enameloplasty is a fancy term for cosmetic tooth contouring, and it might easily be one of the simplest procedures you'll ever undergo in your quest for a more beautiful smile.

If you're a good candidate for enameloplasty, you can count yourself lucky. While it cannot repair major problems, the procedure is custom-made for people with minor dental imperfections that despite their lesser nature still cause them daily embarrassment. Ideal candidates for enamel contouring include individuals whose teeth are:

  • Irregular in shape.
  • Mismatched in size.
  • Too long.
  • Too pointy.
  • Chipped or grooved.
  • Uneven.

In addition to its talents at cosmetic improvement, the judicious use of this procedure will often correct an imbalance in tooth height that interferes with a proper bite.

While enameloplasty can serve as a stand-alone smile improver, it does play another common role. Your dental professional will normally turn to the technique as a preparatory step for patients whose teeth are in line for crowns, veneers or whitening procedures.

How Dentists Perform Tooth Contouring

The enameloplasty procedure consists of removing a small amount of your dental enamel through the gentle use of discs, lasers or drills. To correct imperfections between the teeth, your dentist may turn to small strips of sandpaper. When the dental contouring is complete, a final polish will add to the aesthetic effect.

The entire procedure should take less than half an hour. Since your tooth enamel contains no nerves, the treatment will also be painless.

The Benefits of Enamel Contouring

Most people are impressed by the fact that a treatment that costs so little and goes so quickly can afford such attractive results. Your dentist can complete the tooth contouring job in only one visit, and once it's done, it's done. Because tooth enamel will never grow back, your bright new smile will be permanent.

Enamel contouring can also improve your dental health. Teeth that overlap or bear crevices provide plaque and tartar with perfect hiding places in which to accumulate. By removing the overlaps and smoothing the cracks, tooth recontouring can stop these invaders in their tracks.

For some lucky patients, enameloplasty may serve as a viable alternative to braces. If you should fall into this category, you will walk out of your dentist's office with a great new smile while avoiding years of treatment time and circumventing orthodontia bills that can easily soar into the six-figure range. Unfortunately, the magic of enamel contouring cannot straighten the appearance of everyone's teeth, but for those who do qualify, the savings in time and money can be considerable.

The Downside of Enamel Recontouring

Despite its many benefits, tooth contouring does have one major disadvantage: It can correct nothing more than minor imperfections, and this stems from the fact that tooth enamel averages no more than 2.58 millimeters in thickness. If your dentist removes too much, there will be nothing left to protect your teeth. While the procedure might slightly improve the appearance of extremely crooked or misshapen teeth, there is only so much enamel your dentist can remove without compromising your dental health.

In addition, anyone undergoing enameloplasty will need to be very gentle with the enamel that does remain. This means just saying no to hard-bristled brushes and abrasive toothpaste and treating your teeth to a gentle hand. Despite your tooth enamel's inherent strength, the procedure could leave your teeth vulnerable to cavities and give them a tendency to wear down faster in the vertical dimension. If the latter should happen, it could prematurely age the appearance of your smile.

A final consideration involves the eventual thickness of the remaining enamel after tooth contouring is complete. When this becomes too thin or its removal exposes the tooth's dentin layer, the teeth may become sensitive to foods and beverages that are too cold, too hot or too sweet.

Cosmetic Dental Contouring and You

Although tooth contouring can work wonders for most individuals whose smile is just in need of a minor cosmetic adjustment, there is little that it can do to correct the appearance of seriously crooked, pitted, cracked or misshapen teeth. The procedure is also contraindicated for people whose enamel is already too thin. In cases like these, veneers or bonding will be a better bet.

If your troubles are less serious, you will find in enamel contouring a painless, inexpensive and speedy means of improving the health and appearance of your teeth. If you believe that this procedure might be right for you, call Dr. White today.