Enamel Shaping

Enamel Shaping (Contouring) is the process of shaping natural teeth to improve their appearance. Shaping can be used to correct minor cases of crowded or overlapping teeth, smooth rough edges, or make small adjustments to the shape of a tooth.

Enamel shaping is done to improve the overall appearance of teeth, by removing small amounts of tooth enamel in order to change the length, shape or surface contours of a tooth. Tooth contouring can provide a solution to:

  • correct uneven front teeth
  • correct small chips or surface flaws
  • round off pointed canine teeth
  • shorten teeth that appear too long (usual problem with canines)
  • correct minor overcrowding problems
  • adjust teeth to create a smile that follows the contour of the lower lip

Beside the cosmetic effects, enamel shaping can improve overall dental health by removing minor crevices (chips and other surface flaws) or overlaps (crowded teeth without enough interdental spaces) in which plaque or tartar can accumulate.

The enamel shaping procedure

During the enamel shaping treatment, Dr. Christine Dahl uses fine diamond and/or polishing burs to remove small amounts (generally not more than 1 to 2 millimeters) of tooth enamel where needed. When there are imperfections between teeth she may use strips of sandpaper to shape and smooth the sides.

Once the teeth are reshaped properly Dr. Dahl polishes the teeth. Because dental recontouring involves only the enamel (the outer layer of the tooth that has no nerves) without affecting the living part of the tooth (dental pulp), it usually can be done without anesthetic. The procedure is quick and painless, usually completed in only one appointment and the results can be seen immediately.

Limitations of teeth shaping

Tooth recontouring is not a substitute for dental veneers or tooth bonding. If teeth have substantial imperfections – such as a deep chip or fracture – recontouring probably won’t be enough to correct the problem. Crowded teeth in most of the cases will need orthodontic braces. Only minor problems can be treated by teeth shaping.

Since some amount of tooth enamel has to be removed the depth of the enamel layer and the relative position of the dental pulp chamber are critical factors for performing a tooth shaping procedure. X-rays are usually needed to get this information. If the tooth has a relatively thin layer of enamel, or if the dental pulp is too close to the surface, tooth recontouring may not be possible.

Risks of enamel shaping

The enamel loss during teeth shaping is permanent and irreversible, so the dentist must carefully discuss the effects of the re-contouring with the patient before the treatment. The removal of tooth enamel makes its layer thinner and in some cases the treated tooth may become sensitive. In-office application of fluoride gel or varnish and regular use of toothpaste for sensitive teeth are recommended in these cases after a tooth contouring treatment.

Although enamel shaping is a relatively simple procedure, tooth contouring performed by an experienced cosmetic dentist may provide a significant improvement in the look of your smile.

Give our staff a call at (563) 332-1600 and make an appointment with Dr. Dahl to discuss your options for enamel shaping in Bettendorf, IA.



We are conveniently located on Maplecrest Road across from Bettendorf High School, near the Genesis Medical Plaza, and one block east of 18th Street.