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What is Enamel Microabrasion?

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Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

A brighter smile can boost your confidence, but not all whitening treatments contribute to oral health. If having aesthetically pleasing teeth is your goal, consider a professional teeth whitening option, like enamel microabrasion.

What is Enamel Microabrasion?

Enamel microabrasion is a permanent cosmetic dentistry treatment that removes discolorations from the tooth surface. Yellow and brown spots on the tooth are often decalcification stains caused by a buildup of sugar and acids that weaken enamel. This procedure is typically done to improve the appearance of teeth staining due to enamel defects that occur during tooth development or from fluorosis.

Is Enamel Microabrasion Healthy?

Enamel microabrasion can be better for your teeth than other whitening methods since the procedure does not require harsh chemicals. This non-invasive treatment only removes micro-layers of enamel to ensure as much protection as possible remains. The whitening effects of enamel microabrasion are effective and long-lasting, and your dentist can determine if you're a candidate for the treatment.

Enamel Microabrasion Before and After

Before Treatment. Enamel microabrasion whitens teeth with mechanical dental tools rather than harsh chemicals. A dental professional may recommend the treatment for people with discolored teeth from drinking coffee, poor oral hygiene, genetics, or dental fluorosis. According to the World Journal of Clinical Cases, dental fluorosis produces opaque white areas or yellow to dark brown discolorations with porosities on the enamel surface. If you experience mineralized white stains and surface irregularities on your teeth, contact your dental professional to see if enamel microabrasion is the correct treatment for you.

After Treatment. Once the procedure is complete, the surface of the protective enamel will appear radiant, shiny, and glass-like. People who participate in enamel microabrasion can experience a smoother tooth surface which helps to reduce bacterial colonization resulting in a potential decreased risk of tooth decay.

What Happens in an Enamel Microabrasion Procedure?

The treatment for enamel microabrasion is usually quick and painless, though some teeth sensitivity may occur in the first 24 hours. Your dental professional will likely use a mechanical rotating device called a prophy cup to grind down the teeth instead of whitening them with harsh chemicals. A typical enamel microabrasion procedure can involve the following steps:

  1. The teeth are isolated from the gums with a rubber dam.
  2. Acidic and abrasive agents are applied to the teeth in the form of a paste.
  3. Your dental professional will gently scrub the paste with a prophy cup to remove discoloration and layers of stains.
  4. The paste is suctioned, then rinsed from the teeth.
  5. To further blend the color of the teeth, your clinician may give you take-home whitening.

How Long Does an Enamel Microabrasion Procedure Take?

An enamel microabrasion procedure occurs in one appointment and should take no more than an hour to complete. Multiple appointments for this procedure are not standard practice.

Knowing the safe options for teeth whitening is vital. Enamel microabrasion is minimally invasive, and a great solution for people with mineralized spots on their teeth. Speak with a dental professional to see if enamel microabrasion is the best treatment to help give you a smile you love.

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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