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How Dangerous Is Teeth Shaving?

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How Dangerous Is Teeth Shaving?

It’s normal to feel self-conscious about the appearance of your teeth, and you may have considered teeth shaving in your journey to improve your smile.

However, it’s essential to understand the risk of tooth contouring before making a decision. Since your enamel can’t grow back, improper tooth reshaping can lead to permanent damage to your teeth and future tooth decay.

Not everyone is a good candidate for enameloplasty, but there are some safer options out there that can improve your smile.

Table of Contents

What is enameloplasty?

Enameloplasty is a cosmetic dentistry procedure that shaves small amounts of enamel to reshape the tooth. This procedure can help with numerous cosmetic flaws, including:

  • Correcting tooth misalignment or crooked teeth.
  • Fixing uneven teeth or pointy teeth.
  • Shortened teeth that are too tall or too long.
  • Fixing the appearance of a fractured or damaged tooth.
  • Correcting sharp edges and removing chips.
  • Realign a patient’s teeth bite.

Enameloplasty may also be called tooth recontouring, tooth reshaping, tooth shaving, tooth stripping, or odontoplasty. Before the procedure can begin, your dentist will take X-rays of your teeth to ensure that the tooth’s pulp isn’t too close to the surface and that the enamel isn’t too thin.

Typically, the procedure is performed using special tools like a drill, burr, or sandpaper for teeth filing. Once the desired shape, size, and length are achieved, your dentist will polish your teeth.

Although the procedure doesn’t hurt, there are potential risks and side effects from dental contouring due to the removal of a layer of tooth enamel. The dental procedure typically takes less than 30 minutes, and there isn’t any recovery time needed.

Keep in mind that since enameloplasty is a cosmetic procedure, there is a high chance that your insurance won’t cover it. However, you can ask your insurance provider about your coverage.

countouring edges before and after

Shocking Trend: Shaving teeth to PEGS for veneers

Many TikTok influencers have been posting DIY dental procedures that have gone viral. One instance is a teeth whitening hack where people use liquid hydrogen peroxide and baking soda to clean their teeth, which dentists strongly advise against.

Recently, there have been horrifying trends on Tiktok where young adult influencers shave their teeth down to uneven pegs with a nail file.
They do this because they intend to get cheaper cosmetic dentistry procedures done in Turkey to achieve a perfect smile on a budget.

Influencers may also receive free treatments in exchange for promotion on their TikTok page, and they may go under the assumption that they would receive veneers.

Unfortunately, in many cases, they are receiving dental implants and crowns instead. Crown preparations are much more invasive, meaning more trimming is needed compared to veneers, and the influencers are shaving their teeth into pegs for cosmetic reasons.

Filing your teeth removes tooth enamel, which puts you at risk of nerve inflammation, irritation, and tooth sensitivity. Furthermore, it can eventually cause tooth decay.

Unlike your nails, which grow back, the enamel is gone forever, and permanent damage will be done. The catastrophic damage will result in a lifetime of expensive treatments.

In the future, these influencers may need dentures at an early age. The important lesson here is to be careful about the procedures to achieve a perfect smile.

The risk and cost to your oral health aren’t worth the short-term gain, especially when safer options are available. If you’re unhappy with your smile, it’s best to speak with a dental professional.


Risks of shaving your teeth

The enamel of your teeth is a hard coating that protects the inner areas of your teeth, including the pulp and dentin.

It’s the strongest line of defence against tooth decay. When the enamel is damaged, you’re susceptible to tooth sensitivity and the development of cavities and tooth infections. Enamel loss can lead to yellow teeth and increase the risk of chips or cracks.

Although removing a thin layer of tooth enamel may not cause lasting damage, there isn’t much room for error on the part of the dentist. That’s because the enamel is only 2.58 mm thick on average.

Those who have badly worn teeth should stay away from tooth shaving and may want to consider tooth reconstruction procedures to prevent the nerves from being exposed.

Many social media posts have recently claimed that teeth shaving can be done at home. DIY teeth shaving is incredibly dangerous because most of us lack the control and precision that an experienced dentist could provide, and enamel doesn’t grow back, so any damage can be permanent. Always seek a dental professional for any cosmetic treatment.

If your dentist needs to reshape a damaged or broken tooth to prepare it for a crown, they may use materials to build up the tooth so that it’s stable and strong enough to support the crown.

Photos of before and after cosmetic dentistry

Alternatives to shaving teeth

It’s essential to choose the right cosmetic procedure based on your situation. In some cases, recontouring may be appropriate, while in other cases, you may want to consider alternatives.

One of the primary alternatives to tooth shaving is dental veneers. These are thin resin shells bonded to your front teeth to improve their appearance.

In particular, porcelain veneers are an excellent solution because only a very thin layer of enamel is removed from the tooth structure.

Only about 0.2mm to 0.5mm of enamel will be removed, which helps preserve as much of your natural teeth as possible. However, if you opt for no-prep veneers, no shaving is needed. Like recontouring, veneers can adjust the size and shape of your teeth.

If you have gaps between your teeth, dental veneers can help cover them up. For minor issues such as tooth discolourations, pointy teeth, or uneven tooth height, you may consider veneers first since there’s less risk involved.
However, for issues such as a missing tooth, other options such as dentures and dental implants may be more appropriate. Depending on the dental problem, there are other treatments such as teeth whitening, orthodontic treatment, and crowns.

You should never try tooth shaving on your own teeth. If the procedure isn’t done correctly, it can lead to tooth decay.


Who should consider tooth contouring?

Tooth contouring is typically done in conjunction with other dental procedures or to fix minor flaws like reshaping the front teeth.

Here’s when it may be appropriate to consider tooth contouring:

Reshaping a damaged tooth: Filing down a minor flaw to create an even edge on a damaged tooth can enhance your smile.

Creating more space in your mouth: If your teeth are crowded, it can cause bite problems, pain in your jaw, or crooked teeth. Crowded teeth may be caused by big teeth or a small jaw. Shaving your teeth can free up room in your mouth to reduce crowding and the potential problems it may cause.

Adding a crown: A crown cap is added over a tooth with a root canal or a damaged tooth. A dentist may need to trim the tooth down before applying the crown to cover it. In contrast, veneers will only require minor tooth shaving.

Before cosmetic treatment like veneers or braces: Braces and retainers can help correct misalignment of teeth and alleviate crowding. Some orthodontists may recommend teeth shaving before the braces can be installed to make space for the teeth to move into alignment. Similarly, some tooth shaving may be required to make space for the veneers in your mouth. The amount of tooth shaving required can vary depending on your teeth. If you opt for no-prep veneers, no tooth shaving may be needed.

Adjusting your bite: Misaligned teeth can sometimes cause the front upper and lower teeth to rest on top of each other. If a canine tooth is a little too long, your dentist may recommend shaving it down a little.

A person with excessive bite issues or completely misaligned teeth may consider seeing an orthodontist instead. Always consult with a cosmetic dentist before getting any cosmetic dental treatment.

At Bespoke Smile, we can help assess your situation and determine the right course of action to take.

Written by Dr. Sam Jethwa
Written by Dr. Sam Jethwa

BDS (Lon) MFDS RCS (Edin) PgDip ClinEd (UK)
Areas of expertise: Smile makeovers using ultra-thin porcelain veneers, smile design to restore worn teeth and advanced full mouth restorative dentistry.

“A perfect, natural, or bespoke smile is possible to achieve for anyone. There is no substitute for the feeling of confidence an individual and beautiful smile can give. We have developed techniques, which we teach to dentists across the UK and abroad, to help them better their care in their clinics. I believe in comprehensively treating every patient, to bring them up to absolute health, and then put in place maintenance to avoid patients from recurrent replacements, and further treatment. It is a passion for me to deliver an unrivalled experience and end result, which stands the test of time”

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