Not so long ago, you’d have seen many influencers on TikTok ruining their teeth using a nail filer. But, little did they know that their dentist could also have done so without causing permanent damage to their teeth. That’s because teeth shaving is a proper dental procedure done at a dentist’s office.
However, there are others who are more sceptical of the idea of having their teeth shaved. Sometimes, it’s necessary to shave the teeth as a part of another dental procedure. Being aware of this will allow you to be prepared if or when it happens.
What Is Teeth Shaving?
Teeth shaving is a clinical procedure in which a small amount of enamel is removed to change the shape, length, and surface of a tooth. It is known by many other names, such as:
- Teeth filing
- Dental/teeth contouring
- Teeth reshaping
Teeth shaving is a quick and cheap way to get rid of slight imperfections in the teeth. For instance, if one of your teeth is slightly longer than the other, your dentist can level it off and match it to the neighbouring teeth.
Procedure For Teeth Shaving
Your dentist may require an X-ray prior to shaving your teeth. It will help in assessing your overall oral health. Once everything is in order, they will begin filing the teeth.
First, a lip and cheek retractor will be placed inside your mouth. It will protect your soft tissues while allowing your dentist to have a clear view of your teeth.
Following that, they will use a handheld electric burr or sanding disc to shave the teeth (one by one). Besides the biting end, the sides of the tooth may also be shaved.
Following the reshaping of the tooth (or teeth), your dentist may polish and whiten the teeth so you can get the best results.
Keep in mind that since there are no nerves in the enamel, you won’t feel any pain during the procedure. So, you won’t need any anaesthesia. Unless you are having another orthodontic or cosmetic procedure, the entire process shouldn’t take more than half an hour.
Why Are Teeth Shaved Down?
Your dentist may file your teeth for one or more of the following reasons:
When a tooth differs in shape or length from its surrounding teeth, it can be quite noticeable. So, many people get their teeth filed to fix this.
As mentioned above, the procedure is simple enough, but keep in mind that it works best when you only have small imperfections. Even then, teeth filing can visibly change your overall smile.
If you have minor chips, cracks or fractures on the biting end of the teeth, it is possible to get rid of them through dental contouring. Essentially, the cracked part will be filed down. And any difference in the lengths of the teeth will also be fixed.
Orthodontic treatment like braces usually requires the extraction of a patient’s teeth to make room for the remaining teeth. However, dental shaving is available as an alternative to extraction (in some cases).
For this, the dentist will shave the enamel in the area between your teeth. This is known as interproximal reduction. It essentially reduces the width of the teeth and creates small gaps between them. As a result, when you wear braces, your teeth will have room to move into a new position. And there was no need for extraction.
If one or more of your teeth overlap each other, you have what’s known as overcrowding. And if the problem is a minor one, it may be possible to fix it with the help of a dental burr or disc.
Keep in mind that overcrowding doesn’t just cause aesthetic problems but also worsens your oral health. You may not be able to brush or floss your teeth properly. Some of the cavities may also stay hidden until it’s too late. Additionally, you may experience pain. So, it’s worth considering getting your teeth filed, if the problem’s a small one.
Dental contouring can also help make minor adjustments to your bite. This is known as occlusal equilibration.
The idea is to change the shape of the teeth to adjust the bite properly. It can allow for your teeth to meet each other properly and relieve symptoms that can accompany malocclusion. Again, keep in mind that teeth shaving alone might not be enough if the problem is too severe.
Which Dental Treatments Require Teeth Shaving?
Teeth shaving is also required for some cosmetic dental procedures.
For more moderate dental imperfections, dentists usually recommend getting veneers. However, they can be placed without “minimally” shaving your natural teeth. It is necessary to make space for the veneer. Otherwise, it will end up looking too bulky and fake.
Now, teeth filing may not be needed if the veneer is quite thin. And so-called “ultra-thin” veneers are available that require no teeth shaving. But keep in mind that since they’re quite thin, they might not be as durable. Additionally, the colour of the underlying tooth may show through the veneer.
A dental crown or cap completely encloses the tooth; it requires more space. And that’s why, before permanent crowns can even be placed, 70% of your original tooth needs to be filed down. There’s no such dental crown that can be fitted without tooth shaving.
Additionally, dentists recommend crowns when the structural limitations of the teeth prevent achieving the desired result. Additionally, a dental crown is the best option when a tooth has been severely damaged or decayed.
Can You Shave Your Teeth At Home?
According to the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO), you should not try shaving your teeth at home. That’s because once the enamel is gone, it won’t grow back. The damage will be permanent. And you may even end up losing your tooth at an early age.
Your enamel is only about 2.5mm thick, and if you try to file it down without any know-how of it, you’re going to regret it later on. This is because, done improperly, teeth filing can cause pain and sensitivity.
Additionally, it can weaken (and break) the tooth and even make it yellow (especially if you’ve shaved all the way to the dentin). You may even end up losing the tooth. So, it’s best to book an appointment with your dentist if the shape or size of your teeth is bothering you.
What Is the Cost Of Teeth Shaving?
Teeth shaving can cost you anywhere between £150-£300 per tooth in the UK. The treatment is not available on the NHS if it’s needed for cosmetic purposes. So, you’ll have to get it privately.
However, if you’re getting your teeth filed for orthodontic treatment, you may get it for free (as a part of the process. The same’s the case if you’re getting crowns or veneers). Just remember that orthodontic treatments are usually not available to adults on the NHS, so you’ll have to get everything privately.
Also, the cost of your clinic can vary depending on the kind of treatments you’re getting, the number of teeth that need to be shaved, the location of the clinic, and the expertise of the dentist.
Teeth shaving is a fast and cheap way to fix any minor problems with your smile. But no matter how easy it seems, you should never try to do it yourself. That’s because you don’t know about the structure of the tooth or even the enamel. Once you shave it off, it won’t regenerate.
Other than that, you should remember that teeth shaving is sometimes necessarily done as a part of other dental treatments. For instance, it’s impossible to fit a crown without shaving the tooth. Your dentist may also recommend tooth recontouring instead of tooth extraction for orthodontic treatment like braces. Just make sure to discuss the details of the procedure with your dentist, and ask them if there’s an alternative to teeth shaving.