Tooth Recontouring: Cosmetic Dentistry When You are On a Budget

Dentist Blog

Tooth recontouring goes by many names: enameloplasty, odontoplasty or tooth stripping or slenderizing. This is a procedure that involves removal of small amounts of enamel in order to change the length, shape or surface of your tooth. Odontoplasty is one of the most conservative procedures in cosmetic dentistry, and is ideal if you're looking for a nice smile without having to rob a bank – the average cost is between $50-300 per tooth.

What Will Recontouring Fix?

Being a quick and painless procedure, odontoplasty should be one of your first lines of treatment to correct minor imperfections in your smile. Specifically, it can be useful in correcting small chips or breakages, ridding the enamel of pits and/or bulges on the surface, correcting the appearance of uneven or irregularly shaped teeth and adjusting canine tooth lengths.  In addition, you can ask your dentist for recontouring if your oral health is affected by presence of overlaps or crevices that create hard-to-reach spots, which form perfect ground for accumulation of plaque or tartar. 

When Can't Recontouring be Done?

Recontouring involves removal of your tooth enamel, which protects the tooth pulp. Therefore, you may have to look into other dental procedures if you have more substantial flaws like larger chips or deep fractures. Odontoplasty also won't work as a replacement for dental bonding (tooth-coloured composite material used to fill cracks, chips, spaces and cavities on/in teeth) or veneers, if that's what the dentist thinks you need. It is, however, commonly used to restructure teeth during these procedures, creating an even-looking smile. 

Tooth Recontouring Process

The tooth recontouring process involves two or three visits to the cosmetic dentist:

The first visit is an initial examination to determine whether odontoplasty may work for you. The dentist will X-ray your teeth to find the location and size of your tooth pulp (the one containing nerve endings and blood vessels to nourish the tooth). He or she may discount you as a candidate if you have an overly-thin enamel or your pulp comes too close to the tooth surface. In such cases, veneers or bonding may be recommended. 

On the second visit, the dentist will use a small diamond bur or sanding disc to remove small portions of enamel on the affected teeth. A strip of sandpaper will be used to reach between teeth to shape the sides as needed. Since the pulp is not affected, you won't need to be anaesthetized for this procedure. When satisfactorily shaped, the dentist will polish your tooth to complete the process. 

The third visit is merely a follow-up and is only indicated if tooth recontouring was done alongside another cosmetic procedure. For pure odontoplasty, you require no special care regimen apart from your regular oral hygiene routine. 

Tooth Recontouring Risks

The major risk factor with this procedure is the fact that it involves removal of enamel, which is irreplaceable. If your enamel was too thin, the procedure may bring the dentin layer too close to the surface, causing you to develop sensitivity to sweet, hot and cold food and drinks. 


20 January 2016

Teeth And Tears: Dental Dramas Of A School Nurse

I have worked as a school nurse for decades. Children come to me with all sorts of scrapes and bumps and bruises. Black eyes from playing football, sprained wrists from falling off the monkey bars and stomachaches from too many sweets are common complaints. However, the issue that seems to cause the greatest angst is tooth problems. Sometimes a child will have a second tooth knocked out when playing sport and parents arrive in tears. At other times, children come to my office crying because their friends are teasing them about teeth that are discoloured or stick out. I take an active interest in the latest dental news so that I can give parents and children comfort and advice. I have included some of my collected wisdom on these pages. Perhaps this information can help you understand some options when faced with a dental problem. Thank you for reading.