After enduring months or years of braces, you’re finally rewarded with a straight, aligned smile. However, you may notice your teeth look a bit uneven, jagged, or excessively pointy.
This is a common situation, as the teeth tend to shift into imperfect positions during orthodontic treatment.
Not to worry – with a little cosmetic dentistry, you can reshape your teeth for the perfect smile.
Cosmetic dentistry in orthodontics
In orthodontics, such as with braces or Invisalign, if the patient is dissatisfied with the esthetic outcome, then the case is considered incomplete. But orthodontics are dental specialists who don’t perform cosmetic dental procedures such as veneers, bonding, and crowns.
However, we recognize that in some instances when straightening with braces is finished, not all the smiles look “perfect.” Fortunately, orthodontists are familiar with various principals of cosmetic dentistry that they can use to enhance their finishes to enhance the esthetic of the final result.
With technological advancement in diagnosis, wires, and brackets, patients with benefits can now enjoy more efficient treatment times. Consequently, orthodontists can explore various ways to enhance the cosmetic outcome of the treatment. For instance, using tooth reshaping through enameloplasty to treat and finish orthodontic cases to much more esthetic outcomes.
What is Tooth Reshaping or Enameloplasty?
Tooth reshaping, also known as dental contouring or enameloplasty, is a quick and easy cosmetic procedure to sculpt and shape tooth enamel to improve the appearance. It is commonly performed after braces to correct minor imperfections for a more balanced, symmetrical appearance.
Specifically, enameloplasty refers to the process of removing or contouring enamel to:
- Smooth out rough edges or ridges on the teeth
- Reshape teeth that are uneven, chipped, or excessively pointy
- Adjust the length-to-width ratios of teeth
- Close subtle gaps between teeth
- Repair minor chips or cracks in the enamel
The goals of enameloplasty are to create more uniformity in the look of the teeth and subtle changes to dental proportions for a more aesthetically pleasing smile. It is a more minor cosmetic dental procedure compared to veneers or crowns.
The process involves removing small amounts of enamel in strategic areas to smooth rough edges and adjust the length, shape, or position of teeth. Things like chips, cracks, unevenness, and excessive pointiness can be improved.
Enameloplasty is performed by a dentist using specialized instruments to contour the enamel surface of the teeth. The procedure is minimally invasive as it only removes a tiny layer of enamel thickness (around 0.3mm to 0.6mm). Local anesthesia is used to numb the teeth being reshaped.
Common tools used are:
- Dental drills or rotary instruments to remove enamel
- Coarse polishing points and abrasive strips to smooth enamel
- Fine polishing cups, points, and pastes to finalize enamel surface
- Dental etching tools to aid enamel shaping
Tooth reshaping is performed right in the dentist’s chair. This involves:
- The teeth are first mapped out using dental X-rays to determine the precise areas for enamel removal.
- Before enamel removal, the dentist will address and finalize soft tissue concerns.
- The dentist will also determine if any teeth have unfavorable height-to-width ratios. In cases of inadequate tooth height, a laser-assisted gingivectomy may be necessary to gain additional height.
- Local anesthetic is applied to numb the teeth.
- Your dentist will then use a sanding instrument, or dental drill, to gently contour and round out the surface of the teeth.
- The enamel is delicately smoothed and reshaped based on the desired end result. This generally removes only 0.5 – 0.7 mm of enamel thickness.
- Finally, the teeth are polished for a glossy finished look.
Enameloplasty is a painless procedure that takes about 30-60 minutes total. The reshaped enamel can last many years with proper dental hygiene.
Benefits of Tooth Reshaping
Reshaping is less invasive and cheaper than other cosmetic options like veneers or crowns. Benefits include:
- Quick, minor adjustments to perfect your smile
- Smoother, more uniform teeth after braces
- Closing small gaps or lengthening short teeth
- Subtly changing teeth size, angles, or shape
- An affordable way to correct imperfections
- Little to no discomfort
- No impact on tooth sensitivity or health
Tooth reshaping is suited for anyone with minor cosmetic flaws in their smile they want to fix. It’s commonly done as a finishing step after braces or to balance uneven teeth proportions.
However, it’s important to note that this procedure is recommended only when teeth are well-aligned beforehand. Reshaping misaligned teeth can lead to misleading height-to-width ratios.
Good candidates have healthy teeth and reasonable cosmetic goals for tweaking small imperfections. Reshaping works best on younger patients, as they have thicker enamel.
The procedure is suitable for small changes to tooth shape, not major realignments or bite adjustments; it may not work for those with severely crooked, cracked, or discolored teeth.
Maintain Your Reshaped Smile
With proper care, a reshaped smile can last for years to come. This involves the following:
- Avoid behaviors that can undo the reshaping work, like chewing on ice or nails.
- Protect your teeth with a mouthguard during sports.
- Practice good oral hygiene and visit your dentist regularly to keep your smile looking its best.
Consult with your dentist to determine if tooth reshaping is the right option for enhancing your post-braces smile. This simple procedure can go a long way in boosting your confidence and helping you put your best smile forward.