We all know how important a brilliant smile is. Because of that, many of us turn to cosmetic dentistry to fix those tiny imperfections that keep us from boasting the perfect set of pearly whites. When browsing all the options cosmetic dentists offer, one that frequently pops up is enamel shaping.
It is a simple, low-risk cosmetic procedure that will help you achieve the most brilliant smile possible. The simplicity of enamel shaping is exactly what makes it so appealing, especially for those who want superb but cost-effective results.
So, if you’re looking into cosmetic teeth procedures and other dental work, do yourself a favor and learn more about enamel shaping. It may be the right kind of procedure to help you achieve your perfect smile.
Enamel Shaping: A Basic Overview
Before we get into the finer details, we ought to cover the basics first: what is enamel shaping, anyway?
As mentioned, enamel shaping is a cosmetic dental procedure that improves the appearance of your teeth by reshaping the enamel to correct imperfections.
As you probably know, the enamel is the hard, outer layer of your teeth that protects the soft inside, and imperfections in it can involve naturally crooked or uneven teeth, as well as damaged or chipped teeth.
The enamel shaping procedure is quick, easy, and doesn’t involve surgery. It’s something you can easily get at your local dentist’s office, without an anesthetic.
Since the process is similar to your run-of-the-mill tooth cleaning, enamel shaping can also help reduce plaque buildup. That makes it a fantastic way to keep your teeth both beautiful and healthy.
Lastly, because your dentist is able to reshape the enamel of your natural teeth, it’s a great option for people who are a bit hesitant about getting dental veneers. Still, it’s also important to remember that, precisely because it is done on natural teeth, enamel shaping has its limitations.
If your teeth have experienced more extensive damage, then it would perhaps be better to look into other procedures.
Enamel Shaping: The Before and After
Now that we’ve explained what enamel shaping is, it’s time to explain how it’s actually done.
Before Enamel Shaping Can Begin
Before any dental procedure can officially start, your dentist first needs to ensure that your teeth are in good shape. As mentioned, enamel shaping can only be done on natural teeth and for the procedure to work, they need to be perfectly healthy.
In line with that, your dentist will do a general check-up to assess the strength of your enamel before the procedure. If it proves too weak or too thin to handle the reshaping, they will likely recommend an alternative, such as dental veneers.
If your enamel is strong enough, they will likely order an X-ray of your teeth just to be thorough. An X-ray can show any underlying issues, such as infections and cavities that don’t always appear on the surface of the teeth.
Finally, don’t forget that the results of enamel shaping are permanent. Think long and hard about the outcome you want and discuss them thoroughly with your dentist before they start their work.
During The Procedure
Your cosmetic dentist will start smoothing the areas of the enamel by gently removing small amounts of it with a sandpaper disc or a diamond burr. Because the removal is gradual, you won’t really need an anesthetic to endure the procedure. That’s great news for patients who are afraid of needles or don’t respond well to anesthetics.
If your teeth are uneven (i.e., some are longer and some shorter) the dentist might trim them to help balance out your smile. Lastly, if you have a chipped tooth, your dentist could use a technique called tooth bonding to fix the damage. The process involves adding a resin to the damaged tooth to help shape it. Once this resin hardens, it blends with your natural tooth, so you won’t even know it’s there.
In fact, it’s not uncommon for tooth bonding and enamel shaping to come as a package deal.
To finish up the procedure, your dentist will apply a nice polish to further smooth out your teeth. This entire process is quick, virtually painless, and requires no more than one visit to the dentist’s office.
After the Enamel Shaping Is Done
Although enamel shaping doesn’t require complex aftercare, there are still some things your dentist will recommend that you do.
For example, many patients experience slight teeth sensitivity right after the procedure because the natural enamel has been thinned down. If your teeth feel sensitive, your best bet is to avoid hot or cold foods and drinks for a few days after the procedure.
If your dentist also performed teeth bonding, then they will tell you to avoid eating any hard food or chewing gum. Tooth resin does harden once applied, but it can still be easily damaged soon after the procedure.
In general, the best way to speed up recovery is to use sensitive toothpaste for a while after.
How Much Does Enamel Shaping Cost?
As you probably assumed, the cost of enamel shaping can vary. Depending on the amount of work necessary, the price can range between $50 to $300 per tooth.
Understandably, if the work involves tooth bonding, then the price can go up to $600 per tooth. Though that may seem steep, when compared to the $400–$1,500 you would have to fork out for dental veneers, it is still more affordable.
Also, as mentioned, the prices listed may vary, especially if your insurance covers enamel shaping. So make sure to check if your insurance will have you covered and consult with your dentist accordingly.
As you can see, enamel shaping is a great way to improve small imperfections in your smile. It’s quick, painless, and could serve as a natural alternative to dental veneers. The procedure costs anywhere between $50–$300 per tooth.
However, keep in mind that this procedure is usually done to correct small, aesthetic imperfections. If your teeth require more complex corrections, then enamel shaping may not be the best option for you.
About The Author:
Gilbert D. Curtis, DDS, is an associate professor at the University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine. He teaches both in the undergraduate Doctor of Dental Medicine curriculum and the Advanced Education General Dentistry Residency.