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Cosmetic Contouring: Four Things You Need To Know

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Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

If you're unhappy with your teeth's shape or size, it may be worthwhile to consider cosmetic contouring. What is teeth contouring and what exactly does it entail? We’ve laid out the most important information you need to know about cosmetic contouring in four easy sections: how it’s performed, benefits, disadvantages, and when it’s right for you.

How Is the Procedure Performed?

Cosmetic contouring (also known as odontoplasty or teeth reshaping) is a simple procedure that removes some of your enamel to change the form of your tooth or teeth. The goal of cosmetic contouring is to alter your teeth' shape, length, or appearance to improve your look.

Your dental professional accomplishes this by using a drill or laser to remove enamel from your teeth. Enamel is the hard outer layer of your teeth that protects the vulnerable inside of your teeth, so this procedure is limited by your individual tooth structure as not to expose your tooth to risk or potential damage.

An attractive quality of this procedure is that it’s usually quick, painless, and requires no recovery period. Typically, your dental professional can complete it in a single visit without using a local anesthetic.

Did you know: Enamel is the hardest substance in the human body.

What Are the Benefits?

While dental contouring can offer many benefits, cosmetic contouring is the type that is only meant to improve your appearance. With that said, this procedure may offer other perks, even if you’re mostly focused on improving the look of your smile. Whether or not these apply to you will depend on your individual health history and the structure of your enamel.

Benefits of contouring may include:

  • Improving your appearance by altering the shape or size of your teeth
  • Fixing cracked, chipped, crooked, or improperly aligned teeth
  • Improving damage from grinding your teeth (also known as bruxism)
  • Making it easier to clean the areas between your teeth

This procedure is often combined with dental bonding to add material to your tooth and increase its volume or shape

Are There Any Disadvantages?

One limitation of contouring is the layout and structure of your teeth and enamel. As this procedure involves removing enamel, it’s limited by how thick it is at the spots that require reshaping. This means that this procedure can only repair minor cosmetic problems and not make drastic changes to your bite or appearance.

Luckily, your dental professional will be a helpful resource in determining if cosmetic contouring is a good fit for your needs. They’ll perform an examination and often take X-rays to gain insight into your enamel and assess where the procedure is appropriate.

If the procedure thins your enamel, it can increase your risk of wearing it down and developing associated dental problems like tooth sensitivity. Because of this, it’s crucial to practice a proper oral care routine after undergoing contouring.

If you receive cosmetic tooth contouring, be sure to:

  • Brush gently using a soft-bristled brush and non-abrasive toothpaste
  • Avoid chewing on ice and non-food items that could harm your enamel
  • Refrain from smoking or using tobacco products
  • Visit your dental professional at least twice a year

Is Cosmetic Contouring Right for You?

When deciding if the look offered by cosmetic contouring is right for you, it’s smart to consult your dental professional for their opinion. They'll be able to offer a clear picture of what this procedure can offer for your specific health history and needs.

As “cosmetic” implies that the procedure is not medically necessary, much of the decision to get this type of contouring is up to you. Your focus on appearance and budget are two major factors when it comes to making this choice.

The cost per tooth for contouring averages between $50 and $300, according to American Cosmetic Dentistry. This figure will vary based on your location, dental professional, and insurance coverage. It’s good to consider that insurance policies often will not help cover procedures that are cosmetic.

You've made a great choice to read up on what this procedure involves and what upsides and downsides come with it. If you do receive contouring, be sure to maintain your smile through proper dental hygiene and healthy behaviors, and you'll boast an attractive smile for a long time to come.

Oral Care Center articles are reviewed by an oral health medical professional. This information is for educational purposes only. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist, physician or other qualified healthcare provider. 

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