When to Use Enamel Shaping to Improve Your Smile

Published: 10th March 2011
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Dr. Glenn Park is a Saratoga Springs-based cosmetic dentistry specialist in practice at Glenn Park DDS PLLC. According to Park, while there are certain dentists who will use enamel shaping to improve the appearance of teeth—especially in cases where a patient is undergoing orthodontic treatment with Invisalign—this type of dental procedure is generally not recommended to use for purely esthetic reasons.

What I Would Not Recommend

Enamel shaping is mostly used to help patients overcome issues of crowding in the mouth. If you have gaps or spacing issues, then it isn’t going to help fix your issue. Enamel shaping involves the removal of some of the enamel from one or more teeth in the mouth, which in turn decreases the strength of the teeth in question. In a normal, healthy tooth, I would not recommend enamel shaping because it could decrease stability years down the line.

Humans only have a certain amount of enamel on their teeth that they are born with, and they cannot add any more later on down the road. Over the course of time, however, most people tend to grind their teeth and do other things to wear down the natural enamel. People have a decreased amount of enamel throughout the course of their lifetimes, so I don’t usually recommend that anyone get rid of the enamel they do have left with enamel shaping unless it’s absolutely necessary.

Cases Where I Will Do Enamel Shaping

I don’t usually do enamel shaping personally, unless there is a need. One of the few instances where I do recommend enamel shaping for cosmetic purposes is when a patient is already undergoing orthodontic treatment with Invisalign, the clear retainers that orthodontists are now using to help give their patients straighter teeth without the use of metal brackets and wires.

If you were already doing Invisalign, or if you were doing some sort of treatment and the orthodontist asked me to help by doing some enamel shaping, then I will do that. The process of enamel shaping is completely pain-free, and patients don’t even need to have any Novocain during the procedure itself. The reason is because enamel shaping involves only the stripping down and re-contouring of the enamel, and the enamel does not have any nerve tissue in it.

If you were to come into my cosmetic dentistry practice in Saratoga Springs and ask for enamel shaping purely for aesthetic reasons, then I would recommend that you look into orthodontics before delving any deeper into enamel shaping or re-contouring. I usually encourage people to go with traditional orthodontics—and that means either traditional braces or Invisalign. If you go forward with Invisalign as a way to reduce crowding and then find out that you still need some enamel shaping in order to achieve the perfect smile, then it would be at that point when I would go forward with the enamel shaping procedure.

What You Should Remember

Remember, although enamel shaping can change the look of your smile, it can also damage the teeth themselves and cause discomfort or pain down the road. Because you only have a fixed amount of enamel, you should try not to get rid of the enamel you have left—especially if it’s purely for cosmetic reasons.

I do not recommend enamel shaping as part of a standard treatment plan for most people, but there are some people—such as Invisalign patients—who need a bit of enamel shaping to achieve their desired result. As long as you know the potential downsides, it is usually okay to go forward with an enamel shaping procedure.

While minimal work is fine, people should not take any dental procedure, including enamel shaping, to an extreme. Working with a qualified cosmetic dentistry professional in Saratoga Springs is one way to ensure that your enamel shaping will not be done to the degree where the teeth themselves could be hurt. Another way to prevent this over-shaping is to be upfront with your dentist and explain what you do and do not want to happen during the procedure.

The information in the article is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your healthcare provider. We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with an appropriate healthcare provider.

Glenn Park is a writer for Yodle Dental Marketing, a business directory and online advertising company. Find a dentist or more related articles at Yodle’s Guide to Dentistry.

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