Definition & Overview
Enamelosplasty is a minor dental procedure of altering the shape and sometimes, the length of the tooth for cosmetic and functional purposes. The process, which can also involve removing a small layer of the tooth surface, is also known as odonplasty, stripping, slenderising, or tooth recontouring. It is sometimes performed to whiten the teeth but in many cases, it is carried out as a part of dental restorative procedures.
The human tooth is made up of four major tissues - the dentin, cementum, dental pulp, and enamel. The most visible part of the tooth is its enamel, typically coloured white or off-white. It is composed of highly mineralised substance and considered to be the hardest in the body. It is the layer that starts developing even before the tooth erupts from the gum layer. It is also one part of the body that does not contain any nerves or blood vessels. Although the enamel’s main function is to protect the tooth, it can also degrade overtime primarily due to acidity in the mouth.
Who Should Undergo and Expected Results
Enamelosplasty can be beneficial for:
Individuals who have a small chip in their tooth that needs to be reshaped. This is especially helpful for those whose front teeth are affected, where dental deformation is most evident. Other small tooth imperfections, like small bumps or bulges, can also be addressed by removing a small layer of enamel.
Individuals with unusually long canines – Some people are conscious of their canines, the long, pointed teeth found in the upper row. These teeth are normally used for tearing and cutting food. However, unusually long canines can be a cause of self-consciousness and embarrassment as well as unusual bite patterns that could lead to discomfort.
Individuals with “rabbit teeth” – The procedure can be used to shorten the two front teeth, if needed.
Individuals who are conscious of slight overlapping of their teeth - Correcting this dental problem also reduces the chances of dental caries, since all parts of the tooth will become easily accessible for cleaning and flossing. The same benefit can be achieved for those who have crooked or slightly misaligned teeth. In some cases, enameloplasty is enough to correct tooth misalignment and patients can avoid the cost of having dental braces attached.
Individuals who wish to have porcelain veneers fitted over their teeth – Getting veneers require the removal of a small layer of enamel to achieve better fit and adhesion.
Enameloplasty is also advised for patients who just wish to achieve smoother and whiter teeth. People whose occupations require maintaining the best of appearances, such as actors and salespersons, could benefit greatly from this procedure.
The procedure has high satisfaction rating. It is very straightforward and offers a simple way to have the teeth reshaped and contoured according to preference. Enameloplasty allows individuals to achieve a more pleasing smile and helps in improving their quality of life.
How is the Procedure Performed?
Prior to the actual dental session, the patient typically undergoes dental -ray, allowing the dentist to obtain a clear picture of the tooth’s composition and general health. It is crucial to ensure that the pulp is not too close to the tooth’s surface to avoid causing damage.
Enameloplasty is performed in a dentist’s clinic, with the patient comfortably seated and awake during the entire procedure. Using a diamond-tipped dental drill, the undesirable part of the tooth and a small layer of enamel are removed. In some cases, a special type of sandpaper is also utilised to achieve the desired surface smoothness. The tooth is then polished while bleaching agents can also be used if the patient desires. The patient is then instructed to gargle with water to remove any extra debris or tooth materials from the mouth.
Possible Risks and Complications
This procedure provides permanent results that cannot be reversed. Thus, if the patient is not completely satisfied with the dental work, retrieving and placing the original enamel layer back is no longer possible.
There are rare cases in which patients report increased tooth sensitivity following the procedure. If the discomfort is recurring and impacts the patient’s quality of life, additional dental procedures may be considered to provide additional cover to the tooth and ease its sensitivity.
Also, as the thinned out enamel layer is expectedly not as strong as it was prior to the procedure, there’s an increased chance of breakage or cracking of teeth. To avoid this complication, patients are asked to refrain from using excessive force when eating and to avoid contact sports when possible.
- J Clin Pediatr Dent. 2000 Summer;24(4):279-85. Enameloplasty effects on microleakage of pit and fissure sealants under load: an in vitro study.