Sometimes minor defects in your teeth can attract a lot of attention. The human eye is often drawn to small chips in the front tooth or mismatch in teeth size among the adjacent teeth. Do you find yourself noticing these disturbing issues in a smile? The experienced team at The Whittier Dentist can help you with a non-invasive, cost-effective procedure called tooth contouring. Tooth contouring encompasses removing some amount of enamel using a drill to shape an appealing shape, making the tooth a perfect fit among the surrounding teeth. Read on to learn how this cosmetic dental option works.

Teeth Contouring 101

Also called tooth reshaping or odontoplasty, cosmetic contouring is a pocket-friendly and convenient cosmetic dentistry process that fixes chipped, misaligned, cracked, or uneven teeth. The procedure can improve the appearance of your smile and boost self-confidence and self-esteem.

Generally, the dental procedure is tailored to rectify subtle or minor imperfections on your teeth. It is not a solution for severe dental challenges. If the teeth are severely misaligned, crooked, or overlap, the dentist can suggest another procedure like braces instead of tooth reshaping.

It would be best if you had healthy gums and teeth to qualify for dental contouring. The dental process involves removing part of the tooth enamel, and the dentist cannot perform it if you have unhealthy gums, infected pulp, or decayed teeth.

What to Expected at the Procedure

Tooth contouring is a straightforward and fast dental procedure performed at the dentist's office.

The initial step is having x-rays and a dental exam where the dentist checks the health of gums and teeth. The doctor will also examine the enamel. If you have thin or weak enamel, the dentist will recommend another dental procedure like dental veneers. Veneers improve the appearance of misaligned, cracked, or chipped teeth by covering the tooth's front surface with porcelain.

If you have healthy enamel, gums, or teeth, the dentist will use a pencil or pen to mark parts that need sculpting. The step minimizes any imperfections in your tooth.

Next, the dentist will shorten or trim your longer teeth's length and shape and smoothen uneven teeth. It improves the teeth's bite and alignment.

The dentist can use numerous tools while reshaping the teeth. For example, the doctor will use a sanding drill, a fine diamond bur, or a laser to remove tiny sums of the enamel's surface. Additionally, the dental expert will need abrasive strips between your teeth to shape and smoothen the teeth's sides.

After your tooth is contoured and reshaped, the dental expert will polish the tooth. The step involves smoothening over and removing any discoloration from the teeth, giving them a glossy and attractive appearance.

Tooth contouring happens on the enamel. Enamel is the outer tooth layer and does not have nerves hence a painless procedure. Nevertheless, you can request an anesthetic if you are worried about discomfort.

Sometimes patients feel vibrations as your dentist gently reshapes their teeth.

The entire process will take approximately one hour per tooth. Immediately following the dental process, the outcome will be apparent when you look at yourself in your mirror.

Why Integrate Cosmetic Contouring With Bonding

If the teeth have gaps in between or have a chipped tooth, your knowledgeable dental expert can combine odontoplasty with bonding. Bonding boosts the teeth's color and adds shape.

Bonding uses a tooth-colored resin to mold and then shape the tooth. The dentist can consider using local anesthesia. Before applying resin to your teeth, your dentist will etch your tooth surface with a Dremel-like tool to ensure the resin sticks well. The doctor can also use a conditioning liquid to pain your teeth, helping the resin stick.

Once the bonding material is applied to the tooth and hardens, it matches your natural teeth' appearance. Your dentist should ensure the resin improves the natural color of the teeth or complements the color.

After the doctor applies the bonding material, they will shape it before it hardens. The dental process can take another 30 minutes to one hour per tooth if you need bonding.

Benefits of Dental Contouring

While tooth contouring is not suitable for all cases, there are numerous benefits of this dental work, including:

  • The dentist will remove some tooth enamel to shorten or reshape the teeth, creating a beautiful smile
  • Fixes minor issues like crooked, chipped, cracked, or poorly aligned teeth
  • Fixes damage stemming from teeth grinding by smoothing out uneven areas
  • It is a non-invasive, painless procedure.
  • It is a quick and convenient process that requires only one dental appointment. Depending on the needs and circumstances, the dentist can complete the procedure in 30 minutes to an hour.
  • Odontoplasty is a permanent, one-time dental procedure that will not require repairs or reverse, provided you take care of your teeth following the dental work to prevent further enamel loss.

The cosmetic benefits of cosmetic contouring are apparent, but dental contouring has additional oral health advantages, including:

  • Improves your bite — Evening out your teeth can assist your speech and in chewing
  • Reduced risk of future damage
  • Overlaps and slight misalignments allow plaque and tartar to build up. Dental contouring makes it easy to clean the spaces between your teeth, eliminating these issues and lowering the risk of suffering from gum disease and tooth cavity.
  • Reduced irritation — Pointed teeth aggravate the mouth's inner lining

Sometimes tooth reshaping can save you the cost of orthodontic dental treatment if overlapping teeth cause your teeth misalignment.

Potential Risks

Despite the dentist's dedication, tooth reshaping comes with potential risks, just like in all medical procedures. The enamel is a thin layer, approximately 2.6 millimeters, and the dentist should be cautious. Otherwise, challenges can arise if too much is taken off.

Tooth contouring can result in:

  • Increased risk of tooth damage or decay
  • Tooth sensitivity to cold or hot
  • Teeth yellowing
  • Potential recurrence cases of bruxism (tooth grinding)

Given the potential for damage to your teeth, odontoplasty is not something you can try at home. Special training is required, and it is particularly unsafe to perform dental work on the mouth.

How to Take Care of the Teeth Following Cosmetic Contouring

Even if you have been told that you have a beautiful smile after the tooth reshaping procedure, it is essential to take steps to look after your teeth and prevent dental challenges. It involves being cautious of your everyday habits and using the appropriate dental care products.

Brush Twice a Day

While it is not a secret that people should brush their teeth twice a day, many ignore brushing their teeth at night. Brushing your teeth before going to bed eradicates plaque, bacteria, and germs that accumulate during the day.

Proper brushing techniques clean your mouth, gums, and teeth effectively. Here are tips to keep in mind:

  • Using a fluoridated toothpaste, brush your teeth for two minutes, twice a day
  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to avoid any damage to your enamel
  • Your toothbrush's angle is essential. Ensure it is against your teeth at a 45-degree angle to your gum line.
  • Gently brush tooth surfaces using short and gentle circular, back, and forth motions. Avoid scrubbing or sawing motions.
  • Do not forget to brush the tongue. Plaque can build up on the tongue, resulting in bad odor and other dental health issues.
  • Keep your mouth clean following brushing by avoiding eating for at least thirty minutes after brushing.

Remember to replace your toothbrush after three months or any disease.

Flossing Once a Day

Many people who brush their teeth regularly ignore flossing. Flossing removes bacteria and plaque trapped between the teeth, where a toothbrush cannot reach. It also prevents bad breath caused by removing food particles and debris trapped between the teeth.

Dentists recommend gently pushing the floss all the way down to the gum line before hugging the tooth's side with up-and-down motions. Do not snap your flossing up and down between your teeth since it can result in pain. Additionally, it will not remove plaque effectively.

Flossing can be challenging for senior citizens with arthritis and children. Instead of giving up, look for ready-to-use dental flossers.

Foods and Drinks to Eat and Avoid

You should limit your candy and sugar intake. Bacteria in your mouth require sugar to produce acids that weaken tooth enamel and destroy teeth. Whenever you expose your teeth to sugars, the demineralization process starts, and it can take time for your mouth to return to normal, basic pH conditions.

Please avoid sodas, sugary snacks, sweets, candy, fast food, and cookies. Other fermentable carbohydrates to avoid include:

  • Breakfast cereals
  • Crackers
  • Bananas
  • Bread

Crunchy vegetables and fruits such as carrots, celery, pears, and apples are ideal in-between meals since chewing boosts saliva production. Saliva protects teeth.

Ensure you drink a lot of water. Water is good for your overall health, including dental health. It can assist in washing out the adverse effects of acidic and sticky beverages and foods between your brushes.

Drink fruit juice and soft drink beverages with caution. Many soft drinks have phosphoric acid that interferes with your body's capability to absorb calcium. Drinking the beverages using a straw could reduce the time your teeth are exposed to the acid.

Ensure you chew sugarless gum for ten minutes after eating snacks and food to reduce tooth decay.

Regularly Dental Visits

Dental health professionals recommend that people visit the dentist every six months for checkups. However, how often you require checkups depends on your overall health, dental health, and age.

Your hygienist will clean your teeth and remove tartar and plaque during the appointment. They will also check for symptoms of cavities and other dental health problems.

Use Mouthwash

Mouthwash reduces the acid level in your mouth, remineralizes teeth, and cleans hard-to-brush areas around and in your teeth and gums.

Please note that mouthwash cannot substitute flossing and teeth brushing but complement them.

Use a Fluoride Toothpaste

There are more essential elements to look for beyond flavors and whitening power when choosing toothpaste. Irrespective of the toothpaste you choose, ensure it contains fluoride. Fluoride offers a protective barrier for the teeth and prevents tooth decay.

Avoid Smoking

Smoking interferes with your immune system, making it challenging for body tissues to heal. It will also affect your mouth's appearance, resulting in teeth yellowing and bad breath.

Wearing a Night Guard

If you grind your teeth at night, you should wear a mouthguard (bite splint or nocturnal bite plate) to prevent tooth damage.

A night guard is a retainer-like piece of plastic that can be soft or hard. It covers the patient's biting surfaces and can be used on either top or bottom teeth. Since every person has unique teeth patterns, a night guard is individualized by molding it to fit the teeth without the possibility of being unnecessarily bulky or uncomfortable.

Alternatives to Cosmetic Contouring

While cosmetic contouring is an ideal option to improve your teeths' shape, it is not perfect for everyone. Luckily, there are numerous alternatives to cosmetic contouring that can fix all dental imperfections either over a while or in a one-day dental appointment. They include:

Dental Bonding

If the teeth have gaps, chips, or minor misalignments, dental bonding is a simple, non-invasive process that can fix the imperfections.

The dentist will apply composite resin to your affected teeth, sculpt, shape, file and then polish until they are indistinguishable from the neighboring teeth.

Dental Crowns

Dental crowns consist of natural-looking porcelain caps customized to match the shape and shade of your surrounding teeth. They function and look like your natural teeth.

However, it is more invasive than tooth contouring. The dentist will remove a significant amount of the tooth's existing structure to accommodate your crown.

Porcelain Veneers

Your dentist could recommend porcelain veneers over cosmetic contouring if your teeth are severely damaged. Porcelain veneers are thin, tooth-colored shells customized for your mouth, teeth, and smile. The porcelain material is compatible with your natural gum tissues, eliminating the likelihood of adverse reactions.

The dentist will first remove significant enamel before attaching the veneer to the natural tooth using bonding cement. Once the bonding cement dries, the dentist will shape the veneers to realize a natural and beautiful smile.

While veneers treatment has similar benefits as cosmetic contouring, it is more expensive.

Tooth Whitening

There are several tooth whitening options for all patients, depending on their budget, temperament, and duration. You can choose your treatment to be performed in the dentist's office, buy whitening products over the counter, or a cosmetic spa.

Typically, dentists integrate teeth whitening with cosmetic contouring if the tooth that requires whitening has unwanted sections that affect your smile's beauty.

One risk of tooth whitening is increased sensitivity to touch and temperature.

How Much Does Cosmetic Contouring Cost?

The average cost of tooth reshaping ranges from $50 to $500.

The cost of this dental treatment depends on numerous factors. The cost depends on the amount of work your dental specialist does in tooth contouring. Other factors include:

  • Your cosmetic dentist's expertise and reputation
  • The local rates

It is worth noting that dental health coverage does not cover the treatment. Many insurance providers consider tooth contouring an entirely cosmetic procedure.

Nonetheless, sometimes companies can cover the dental work if you need it following an accident or injury. Most patients who undergo restorative dental work have a goal to have functional and healthy teeth and look forward to improving their smiles. Consequently, when choosing cosmetic contouring, ensure your dentist has your desired results in mind.

You should not worry if the insurance company fails the cover dental contouring. Cosmetic contouring is a more pocket-friendly procedure than other procedures like veneers.

During your initial consultation, your dentist will offer you an estimate of your treatment option. Knowing your expected costs will help you make informed decisions about dental care. Most seasoned dental offices at Whitter, California, work with their patients to develop a flexible and reasonable payment plan for their cosmetic dental treatment.

Ways to Save on Your Dental Care Costs

Even with insurance, dental care services can leave you stuck with substantial out-of-pocket spending. Fortunately, it is possible to find affordable dental care with patience and research.

  1. Dental Savings Plans

It is worth noting dental saving plans are different from dental insurance.

When you belong to a dental saving plan, you obtain discounts of 10 percent to 60 percent from dental care professionals who are in the plan's network. You pay an annual fee, and there is a deductible (you do not have to pay a specific amount for your discount to start).

Another advantage of a dental saving plan is that you can use your discount within a couple of days of signing up. That means you can wait to purchase the plan until you require the cosmetic contouring done.

Some organizations provide these plans in their employee benefits package. You can also buy the plans from reputable insurance providers or obtain them through associations and groups.

  1. Look for Available Discount

Before proceeding with cosmetic contouring, learn the different discounts offered by your dentist. You will discover there are several money-saving opportunities.

If you want to stay on top of the latest available discounts through your dentist, visit the dentist's official website and be on the email list by filling out email details.

  1. Credit Card Payment

Many dentists accept several credit cards such as Discover, American Express, MasterCard, and Visa. If you use a credit card, remember to contact your bank and inform them about your purchase. If the dental work involves vast sums of money, some financial institutions can flag it as suspicious. Consequently, it would be best to avoid potential challenges by contacting the bank in advance.

  1. Skip What You Can

During your initial consultation, ask your dentist about the estimated fees and what is involved during the dental work. Check what you can do without.

  1. Do Your Part

Prevention is the most affordable and best medicine. Ensure you floss and brush your teeth every day. Brushing keeps your gums and teeth healthy while flossing prevents plaque and the development of dental health conditions.

Questions to Ask a Dental Health Professional

Cosmetic dentistry allows patients to have their desired smiles. Thanks to non-invasive options like cosmetic contouring. Nonetheless, the option is not ideal for all patients, making it necessary to ask your dentist the questions below before settling on tooth reshaping.

  • If your teeth are severely damaged or have cavities, you do not qualify for dental contouring. Your dentist will review your dental health and advise on the most suitable option.
  • It would help if you understood that cosmetic contouring is irreversible and permanent. That means you should take good care of your teeth after the procedure.
  • Enquire from the dentist whether the dental work is guaranteed.
  • How long will the procedure take? Typically, it is a one-time procedure carried out in the dentist's office.
  • Ask about alternatives to dental contouring. Your dental needs and cosmetic goals are unique, and what worked for another patient cannot be appropriate for you. Your experienced dentist should explain why they recommend the option.
  • Ask about home care routines. What type of instructions, if any, should you follow? How can you protect your results' integrity? Dental treatments are not cheap, and it would be wise for you to take care of your oral health.
  • Tell your dentist of your existing health issues, including bruxism and tooth sensitivity. Remember to inquire how the conditions can affect your dental treatment.
  • What is your treatment's goal? You and your doctor should agree on your anticipated outcome to avoid later misunderstandings.
  • Ask about any possible risks.
  • Ask to see photos of patients before and after cosmetic contouring so that you can determine how effectively the doctor performs the procedure.
  • Ask the cosmetic dentist the number of similar successful procedures. Do not restrict this concern to general practice or trust an inexperienced and unskilled person for the cosmetic treatment.
  • Does the cost estimate issued by your dentist cover everything? Some dentists charge for extra services, giving patients unexpected expenses. At The Whitter Dentist, there are no hidden costs. Our compassionate dentists will discuss your total procedure cost during the initial consultation with you.
  • Are there available financing options? Typically, cosmetic dental procedures are expensive. Also, many insurers do not cover tooth contouring since it is considered cosmetic. Many dentists offer flexible financing plans to assist their patients in paying their medical expenses.

Contact a Skilled Cosmetic Dentist Near Me

A chipped, misaligned, discolored, or cracked tooth can prevent you from smiling. Fortunately, modern-day cosmetic dentistry can assist you in realizing a beautiful smile and healthy, strong teeth through cosmetic contouring. The dental work alters the tooth's shape, surface, and length, eliminating plaque, tartar buildup, and stains. The advantages of tooth reshaping go beyond improved aesthetics. Additionally, it can remove pits and bumps in your tooth enamel, resulting in severe dental conditions. If you have insecurities with your tooth and smile appearance, The Whittier Dentist invites you to contact our team at 562-632-1223 to book your initial consultation. Our experienced cosmetic dentists can tell you more about tooth reshaping, its benefits, and what to expect with the procedure during the consultation.

We look forward to seeing you!