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A guide to Tooth Recontouring

There are many ways that dentists can help people to improve their smile. It is not uncommon for people to show a lot of their gums when they smile. A dentist can shape and reduce the gums through a simple process called gum recontouring.

Similarly, it is not unusual for people to be unhappy with the length or shape of their teeth. So (as you might expect) there is a complimentary procedure known as tooth recontouring. This procedure involves the dentist removing very small strips of tooth enamel to change the length or shape of the offending tooth.

The aim of tooth recontouring is to enhance the appearance of individual teeth and to therefore improve the overall look and balance of your smile. It is often used as part of a broader programme of treatment, which can include tooth whitening for example.

Tooth recontouring is a very straightforward treatment and dentists will often recommend it to resolve minor issues such as a chipped tooth, a tooth with an irregular shape or slightly overlapping teeth. It can also be used to reduce the length of the teeth – especially the canine incisors at the sides of your mouth.

Your dentist uses sanding techniques or a diamond burr to gently smooth out the imperfections and create neater, more aesthetic shapes to your teeth. It may sound a little bit scary, but it is actually also a painless treatment - in fact, an anaesthetic is not usually required as your dentist does not touch the sensitive parts of the teeth, such as the pulp. In the majority of cases, recontouring can be done in a single visit to the dentist. So the results are immediately apparent.

Recontouring, therefore, has many benefits. One of the most important benefits, which has not been mentioned yet, is that it can also help you to maintain a better standard of oral hygiene. Because recontouring can be used to smooth out bumps, trim teeth that overlap and alter irregular shaped teeth, it means that it also removes many of the pockets where food and plaque build up. Once these pockets are gone, your teeth become much easier to keep clean.

If you are interested in tooth recontouring, your first step should be to arrange a full consultation with your dentist. Not everybody is suitable for recontouring. It is important to remember that recontouring is really only suitable for minor imperfections and small corrections. If you require significant work to your teeth, you may require a different type of treatment.

A full consultation with your dentist should help to manage your expectations so that you understand what can be achieved through recontouring. Some patients expect to see radical results after recontouring, when in reality it is only designed to add a little harmony and balance to their teeth.

If you have badly chipped or crooked teeth, your dentist may choose to recommend a different type of treatment rather than recontouring. For example, porcelain veneers are thin layers of porcelain that can be bonded to your teeth. They last for around a decade and present the appearance of white, uniform teeth when you smile. Porcelain veneers can therefore cover up a host of chips, cracks, discolouration and crooked teeth, which recontouring would only make a minimal difference to.

Alternatively, your dentist may be able to apply a bond to a particular tooth when it requires more work than simply recontouring. A bond is a tooth-coloured resin which fills in the cracks and hollows in the tooth to improve its appearance. Together, bonding and recontouring can be used to improve your teeth and enhance the quality of your smile.

Finally, your dentist may also recommend against a recontouring procedure if the enamel on your teeth is very thin. Your dentist will need to take x-rays to ensure that there is enough enamel on your teeth to strip it away and shape it, without exposing the pulp underneath. If the enamel is thin and the pulp is very close to the surface, recontouring may not be an option as the teeth could be irreparably damaged.

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