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Why Your Teeth Might Need To Be Shaved Prior To Receiving Braces

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Orthodontics has existed for quite some time. Archeologists have identified early attempts at dental braces that date back thousands of years. So it's not as though the technique is new, although the method and materials have certainly moved with the times. You might think you already know what to expect when your new braces are applied, so why might your orthodontist tell you that your teeth need to be shaved before your braces can be applied?

Interproximal Reduction

Teeth shaving (also called enamel contouring) is the removal of a small fraction of a tooth's surface enamel. It's typically used to remove minor imperfections and improve the appearance of a tooth. When enamel is removed from your interdental zone (the spaces between your teeth), the process is known as interproximal reduction. Why is this sometimes necessary before braces can be applied?

Dental Overcrowding

Many patients who require braces are affected by dental overcrowding. To put it simply, the length of your jaw is insufficient to accommodate your teeth in the correct alignment, meaning that they have become misaligned. While your orthodontic treatment is intended to correct this issue, your treatment can be more straightforward if the width of your teeth is reduced.

A Tiny Fraction of Your Overall Enamel

Any required reduction will be absolutely minimal. It's highly unlikely that you will be able to see the reduction because only a tiny fraction of enamel will be removed. Obviously, your teeth need enamel to protect them from decay and deterioration, and the interproximal reduction will still leave you with sufficient enamel coverage. It's often performed manually, using an abrasive proximal finishing strip, which is sometimes diamond-coated. The strip is gently inserted into your interdental zone and moved back and forth. It's not painful, although patients with especially sensitive teeth and gums may wish to have their jaw numbed prior to the procedure.

The Ultimate Alignment of Your Teeth

This fractional reduction helps to facilitate the ultimate alignment of your teeth. Over the course of your treatment, your braces apply pressure to your teeth, gradually shifting them into the intended arrangement in your dental arch. Interproximal reduction assists this process, calibrating your teeth so that once your treatment has concluded, your teeth will sit alongside each other in the correct alignment with an appropriate interdental zone between them.

Not all patients will need interproximal reduction prior to receiving braces. However, if your orthodontist tells you that it will be a requirement in your particular case, please don't be concerned. While it might be necessary for the ultimate alignment of your dental arch, the process is quick and painless, and you won't notice any physical difference in your smile.

For more information, contact an orthodonics facility in your area.