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What Is Dental Contouring?

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What Is Dental Contouring?

Oral care is more than brushing your teeth and watching for cavities. Although regular oral care is essential, the health and appearance of your smile matter. Cosmetic dentistry includes treatment for improving your teeth, gums, or bite.

There are many types of cosmetic dentistry, from teeth whitening to dental bonding. In some cases, even braces and dental implants are considered cosmetic dentistry.

One option for enhancing your smile is dental contouring. 

Dental contouring, also known as tooth reshaping or odontoplasty, is a dental procedure to improve your teeth. It can often be a low-cost alternative to braces. However, it is a targeted approach best for minimal changes rather than a procedure aimed at significant oral problems.

Dentists can quickly and painlessly correct chipped, cracked, or misaligned teeth. Often, dental contouring uses tooth bonding or dental bonding to add to the existing tooth, placing an artificially created shape over the imperfection.

Assessing If You’re A Odontoplasty Candidate

Dental contouring is handy for many types of minor fixes. However, not all dental issues are a good match for odontoplasty. First, your dentist must assess if you are a good candidate for dental contouring.

As dental contouring is applied directly to your teeth, you need a healthy foundation for appropriate changes. Your dentist will check your teeth and gums for tooth decay, gingivitis, gum disease, infected pulp, or other concerns.

Additionally, your dentist needs to confirm the condition of your tooth enamel. Tooth enamel is a tough outer layer that protects each tooth. Although your enamel is tough, it can be worn thin. 

Too much tooth enamel degradation exposes the softer, vulnerable inner layers of your tooth. Notably, frequently eating acidic, sticky, or sugary foods can degrade tooth enamel. As enamel is crucial to the health of your teeth, the best method of maintaining your enamel is preventative dentistry.

If your tooth enamel is too thin or damaged, your dentist will be unable to perform dental contouring.

Your dentist will assess if you’re a good candidate using x-rays and a physical examination of your oral health. After the assessment, you can then book an appointment for dental contouring.

What to Expect During Dental Contouring

Your odontoplasty appointment will typically last 30–60 minutes, depending on how much adjusting is required. If you have multiple areas identified for contouring, you might schedule more than one appointment. The procedure doesn’t require anesthesia.

First, your dentist will remove some tooth enamel using a sanding disc or fine diamond bur tool. The tool will also shape the surface of your tooth to reduce imperfections and create a suitable position for an artificial attachment.

The next step depends on how your teeth should be adjusted. If your teeth are too long, uneven, or overlapped, the dentist will focus on removing excess length. If your tooth is too short or chipped, the dentist will use dental bonding to add shape to your teeth.

Dental Bonding

Dental bonding is a form of cosmetic dentistry that can repair or augment decayed teeth, discoloured teeth, teeth gaps, or elongated teeth. A dentist attaches a resin to reshape your teeth. 

Your dentist will use a shade guide to match the resin to the colour of your natural teeth.

The procedure starts with roughing the tooth surface and applying a conditioning liquid, creating a better bonding surface. Then, the dentist moulds the resin into the desired shape directly on the tooth. Finally, the dentist uses ultraviolet light to bond the material to your tooth. 

The process is complete after the dentist polishes and finishes the final adjustments.

Aftercare for Dental Contouring

After your dental contouring procedure, you can protect your new smile by adding a few good oral habits. Notably, there’s no waiting time after the procedure. You can return to everyday activities immediately. 

Following the procedure, it’s best to avoid biting your nails, eating hard foods, and chewing gum. Any substance or activity that’s hard on your teeth can potentially degrade the artificial placement.

Practicing regular oral health is an excellent way to preserve your teeth before and after dental contouring. Follow the personal dental care guidelines for flossing and brushing your teeth when possible.

Is Dental Contouring Right for You?

Cosmetic dentistry can benefit your oral health and boost your confidence. If you’re thinking about the appearance of your teeth, your dentist can help assess your best options. Book an appointment to learn more about how dental contouring can enhance your smile.

Written by Dr. Kostas Papadopoulos

Dr. Kostas Papadopoulos received his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the University of Toronto in 1992 after completing 3 years of biochemistry and the 4-year program in dentistry. He enjoys continuing education and has attended numerous rehabilitative and cosmetic dentistry programs, including courses taught by Dr. John Kois.

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