Teeth reshaping side effects

While teeth reshaping is a relatively quick and non-invasive cosmetic dental procedure compared to veneers and crowns, especially after braces removal, there are some potential side effects to be aware of.

Reshaping involves permanently removing small amounts of enamel to alter the shape and appearance of teeth. This irreversible process does come with risks if done incorrectly.

Consulting an experienced cosmetic dentist is crucial to minimize these risks. Here are some of the key disadvantages:

Teeth reshaping side effects

8 Disadvantages of Reshaping Teeth

1. Tooth Sensitivity

The enamel is the hard, protective outer layer of the tooth that serves as a shield against external stimuli, and excess removal can expose the underlying dentin, which contains microscopic tubules leading to the tooth’s nerves, causing temporary or permanent tooth sensitivity to hot and cold. Sensitivity to sweets or pressure may also occur.

As a result, patients who undergo enameloplasty may notice heightened sensitivity in their teeth, particularly when they consume hot, cold, sweet, or acidic foods and beverages. This sensitivity can manifest as a sharp, shooting pain or a lingering discomfort.

While it is a common post-procedure side effect, it is typically temporary. Dental professionals often recommend desensitizing toothpaste or fluoride treatments to alleviate this discomfort.

2. Nerve Damage

While rare, there is a risk of nerve damage associated with tooth shaving, especially if the procedure involves excessive removal of enamel. The dental pulp, located within the tooth, houses nerves and blood vessels. Aggressively grinding down or thinning out the enamel increases the risk of impinging on the pulp and causing inflammation or nerve damage, leading to severe tooth pain.

In cases of nerve damage, patients may experience persistent and intense toothache, and further dental interventions may be necessary. This could involve a root canal procedure to remove the damaged nerve tissue and alleviate the pain. Root canals are typically successful in resolving these issues, but they are more invasive and costly than enameloplasty.

3. Loss of Enamel Volume

Enamel is a vital protective layer that shields teeth from decay, bacteria, and external forces. Reshaping involves the intentional removal of enamel to reshape teeth for cosmetic purposes. However, overzealous removal can result in the significant loss of enamel volume.

Permanently removing enamel decreases the total volume and thickness encasing the tooth, and can lead to several issues, including:

  • Weakened overall tooth structure and strength over time
  • Increased risk of chipping, cracks, or fractures.
  • Increased susceptibility to cavities due to exposure of the dentin layer, which is softer and more vulnerable to acidic erosion
  • Increased tooth sensitivity

To mitigate the risk of enamel volume loss, it is crucial to work with an experienced cosmetic dentist who can carefully balance the cosmetic goals of enameloplasty with the preservation of enamel for overall tooth health.

4. Over-Contouring

Over-contouring refers to the reshaping of teeth beyond what is necessary, resulting in an unnatural appearance. Teeth may lose their original shape, size, and alignment. Excessive reshaping can lead to unnaturally rounded, scooped out, or shortened teeth. This may result in poor tooth proportions that compromise aesthetics and function. It is not easily reversed.

Over-contouring can not only affect the aesthetics of the smile but also disrupt the bite. Misaligned or misshapen teeth can lead to bite problems, jaw discomfort, and difficulty in chewing.

Therefore, it is essential for the dentist to strike a balance between achieving the desired cosmetic improvements and maintaining the natural functionality and appearance of the teeth.

5. Tooth Devitalization

Devitalization occurs when the tooth loses its vitality, meaning it can no longer maintain its natural functions. It is the result of over-zealous enamel removal or heat generated from friction that destroys the pulp tissue inside the tooth. This can result in various effects.

Firstly, tooth devitalization may result in noticeable discoloration. The affected tooth can take on a grayish or darkened hue, which can detract from the overall aesthetics of the smile. While tooth discoloration can often be managed with various cosmetic treatments, addressing this issue adds another layer of complexity and cost to the patient’s dental care.

Secondly, a devitalized tooth becomes more brittle and prone to fractures, potentially leading to structural damage. It may also become more vulnerable to infection, as the immune system’s natural defenses within the tooth are compromised. Consequently, your dentist may recommend a root canal to clear out the dead pulp and restore the tooth.

6. Gum/Jawbone Damage

Being too aggressive near the gumline and roots can disrupt the harmonious relationship between teeth and surrounding oral structures, including the gums and jawbone. This disruption can manifest in various ways, such as damage to periodontal ligaments and supporting jawbone, leading to various oral health issues.

One possible consequence is gum recession. When excessive enamel is removed or teeth are reshaped without considering their alignment within the dental arch, it can result in gum recession. Receding gums not only affect the appearance of the smile but also expose the sensitive tooth roots, making them more susceptible to damage and tooth sensitivity.

Additionally, the alteration of tooth shape and alignment can disrupt the bite’s natural balance. This misalignment can lead to jaw discomfort, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) issues, and difficulties in chewing and speaking.

Ensuring that enameloplasty is conducted with precision and careful consideration of the patient’s overall oral health can help minimize these risks.

7. Infection

Any dental procedure that involves the alteration of tooth structure carries a risk of infection if proper sterilization and hygiene measures are not followed. Although enameloplasty is considered a minimally invasive procedure, it still involves contact with dental instruments and the potential introduction of bacteria into the oral environment.

Bacteria and debris may enter the exposed inner tooth layers and pulp chamber during the reshaping process, leading to infection and abscess development.

Infection can lead to various complications, including gum inflammation (gingivitis) or more severe conditions like periapical abscesses. These issues may necessitate further treatments, such as antibiotics or additional dental procedures, to resolve.

To minimize the risk of infection, it is crucial to choose a qualified and experienced dentist who adheres to strict sterilization protocols and maintains a clean and sanitary clinical environment.

8. Aesthetic Relapse

Over time, teeth naturally undergo wear and slight shifts in position due to factors like age, habits, and oral function. Enameloplasty alone may not provide a permanent solution to cosmetic concerns, and patients may experience what is referred to as aesthetic relapse.

Aesthetic relapse occurs when the reshaped teeth gradually return to their original position and appearance or develop new cosmetic issues. This may necessitate further cosmetic procedures to maintain the desired smile aesthetics.

To mitigate this, patients should follow their dentist’s post-procedure instructions carefully and consider long-term cosmetic maintenance strategies, which may include the use of orthodontic retainers or periodic touch-up procedures.

How to reduce the risk

To minimize risks, you should always consult an experienced cosmetic dentist when considering enamel reshaping procedures. Proper technique, tools, and care taken by your dentist can help avoid potential complications.

Additionally, you should consider alternative treatments like dental veneers or crowns for more extensive smile makeovers, as they may offer a safer and more predictable outcome.

Remember that maintaining good oral hygiene and regular dental check-ups are essential for the long-term health and appearance of your teeth.


  • Editorial team

    A team comprising oral health care professionals, researchers, and professional Writers, striving to impart you with the knowledge to improve your oral health, and that of your loved ones. 

  • Lilly

    Lilly, aka, Liza Lee, is a passionate community oral health officer and our lead writer. She's not only well-versed in performing a multitude of dental procedures, including preventive, restorative, and cosmetic, but also an avid writer. Driven by the significant oral health burden all around her, Lilly strives to build capacity and promote oral health. She envisions making a lasting impact by advancing research, prevention, and promotion efforts to alleviate oral health disparities. Please share your views and opinions on my posts.

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