Enameloplasty: Procedure, Side Effects, and Recovery

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Enameloplasty is a cosmetic dentistry procedure that reworks the shape of the teeth by removing small amounts of tooth enamel. This is also known as odontoplasty or dental contouring.

During this procedure, the dentist essentially files or sands down surfaces of the teeth to correct chipped teeth or to improve the symmetry and appearance of your smile.

A pain-free, noninvasive alternative to veneers, enameloplasty is a popular cosmetic approach. If you’re thinking about having this done, it’s crucial to understand the basics of how it works, its side effects, and what recovery looks like, which this article will cover.

 Dentist examining patient teeth, elevated view - stock photo

Karen Moskowitz / Getty Images

What Is Enameloplasty?

The term "enameloplasty" refers to a range of procedures that take away tiny amounts of enamel to reshape and correct the appearance of teeth. This involves using specialized tools to file, sand, smooth out, and eventually polish surfaces. To access areas between teeth, dentists may also use strips coated with abrasive material.

Following the removal and reshaping process, teeth undergo a final polishing and whitening to remove discoloration and add a lustrous quality to them. This leaves your smile bright, even, and attractive. Enameloplasty is used for the following:

  • Removing chips and correcting sharp edges
  • Fixing the appearance of fractured teeth
  • Correcting smaller issues with bite, overbite, or underbite
  • Shortening teeth that are too long and tall
  • Evening out the smile
  • Fixing pointy teeth
  • Correcting crowding of teeth as part of orthodontic treatment

Does It Hurt?

Since there are no nerves within the outer enamel of teeth—the portion that is sanded, filed, or otherwise removed—enameloplasty is a painless procedure. Anesthetic is generally not needed, but if you feel anxious about the procedure, you can request it.

How Long Does It Take?

While much depends on the specific work being done, most enameloplasty procedures take about a half hour in the dental office.

What Is Recovery Like?

Since enameloplasty is a painless, noninvasive procedure, there’s no need for anything specific during recovery. You can go back to eating and drinking as before, though you will want to be mindful of adverse side effects, such as temporary sensitivity to hot or cold.

How Often Do You Need Enameloplasty?

Enameloplasty is an elective, cosmetic procedure, and its results are permanent. The number of procedures necessary to correct unevenness or other issues with your smile will depend on the scope of the work being done. For most people, one procedure should be sufficient.

Recap

Enameloplasty, also known as dental contouring, is a cosmetic procedure that corrects minor irregularities of the shape of teeth. A painless procedure that takes only about a half hour, the enamel of the sides, inner, or outer surfaces are filed or sanded away. Though there may be some side effects, especially tooth sensitivity, no specific steps are needed for recovery.  

Enameloplasty Cost

The out-of-pocket costs of dental contouring procedures depend on a number of factors. These include:

  • Insurance coverage: Many insurance plans won’t help pay for strictly cosmetic work. However, they may offer partial coverage if the enameloplasty is fixing teeth chipped by accidents or falls.
  • The extent of the work: The amount and extent of the work necessary can also influence how much you’re charged for contouring. Generally, the cost of the procedure varies between $50 and $300 per tooth.
  • Additional procedures: Before an enameloplasty, tartar and plaque on the teeth need to be removed. In these cases, you need a standard cleaning appointment, which can add to costs.

Talk to the staff at your cosmetic dentist's office, as well as a representative from your insurance company, to learn what’s covered.

Side Effects of Dental Contouring

Though the procedure is painless, it can cause some side effects. The enamel layer, which is made thinner by treatment, is only about 2.58 millimeters, and there’s little room for error. Side effects include:

  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Increased chance of tooth decay
  • Yellow teeth
  • Greater fragility of the teeth
  • Easier chipping and cracking

Monitoring

Following a procedure, be mindful of how your teeth feel and look. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your dentist if anything feels awry or you’re experiencing pain and discomfort.

Outlook

Enameloplasty is well tolerated and highly successful in making cosmetic adjustments to teeth. Overall, the outlook is very positive; most people do not experience side effects or other issues after this procedure. No recovery time is typically needed.

Alternatives to Enameloplasty

Notably, enameloplasty and dental contouring have limitations in terms of what they can do, and the procedure is not appropriate for every case. However, when corrections are needed, there are some alternatives, including:

  • Bonding: Sometimes combined with enameloplasty, bonding is the use of a resin-like material cemented to the teeth to correct chips, cracks, gaps between teeth, or other issues.
  • Veneers: Another major alternative is the installation of veneers, which are porcelain or composite shells bonded to teeth to make cosmetic adjustments of teeth. These are highly effective in correcting discoloration, chips, and other issues.
  • Other methods: Crowns (caps placed on teeth) or inlays (used for larger cavities) may also be considered. These are preferred options for cavities and tooth decay.     

Tooth Contouring After Braces

Contouring procedures and enameloplasty may also be necessary following orthodontic procedures, such as wearing braces to correct teeth alignment. It can be used as a final touch-up to your smile, perfecting it.

In addition, enameloplasty may be needed as part of teeth correction procedures using Invisalign retainers, a type of clear braces. The orthodontist will strategically file down surfaces to assist in moving the teeth to their proper positions.

Reasons People Seek Out Tooth Recontouring

There are several reasons that people seek out enameloplasty, including:

  • It’s a more conservative method of cosmetic tooth correction than veneers and bonding.
  • No recovery time is necessary, and it’s well tolerated.
  • It can help forestall tooth decay and reduce the risk of gum disease.  
  • It effectively corrects minor aesthetic issues with the teeth, restoring self-confidence.

Summary

Enameloplasty, also known as odontoplasty or dental contouring, fixes smaller issues with the shape of the teeth. Cosmetic dentists file off small portions of enamel to fix chips, pointy teeth, or other irregularities in their shape. Enameloplasty is a painless procedure that usually only takes about 30 minutes, and recovery is minimal. Despite the chance of some side effects, enameloplasty is a successful, minimally invasive procedure.  

A Word from Verywell

Along with other cosmetic dentistry procedures, enameloplasty can play an important role in correcting your smile. Well-tolerated and painless, it’s helped countless people correct smaller issues with their smiles. This procedure can be instrumental in restoring self-confidence. Talk to your dentist about what enameloplasty or other cosmetic dentistry procedures can do for you.   

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Does enameloplasty hurt?

    The enamel removed from the teeth to reshape them doesn’t have nerves in it, so the procedure is painless. Since this hard, external layer does get thinner as a result, some patients experience tooth sensitivity afterward.

  • Do you get enameloplasty after Invisalign?

    Enameloplasty may be considered along with the use of Invisalign retainers to straighten teeth. Over the course of therapy, your dentist may want to contour some surfaces to encourage the process. It may also be used at the end of treatment, to make any final aesthetic corrections.

  • Is tooth shaving safe?

    Performed by a qualified cosmetic dentist professional, tooth shaving and other enameloplasty procedures are very safe and painless. However, this is delicate work, and you should never attempt it at home.

  • Is contouring bad for your teeth?

    Since contouring relies on removing small amounts of tooth enamel, the major risk is that it can make teeth sensitive or unstable. Naturally, enameloplasty can also cause teeth to be more fragile and crack more easily. That said, the outlook is positive for this procedure, with most seeing positive results and no side effects. To ensure success, cosmetic dentists will make sure that your teeth are healthy enough for this procedure. 

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4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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